close working association with the likes of Frances-Marie
Uitti and Arne Deforce who champion his cello music with
impeccable musicality and faultless technique, has led to
the writing of several substantial scores. These include
the splendid Cello Concerto (1990) dedicated
to Uitti and Advaya (1994). However, Curve
with Plateaux of 1982 is one of Harvey’s earliest
pieces for cello. The title aptly describes the form of
this free fantasy for solo cello, in which the music moves
in curves up and down, pausing at various points. Advaya
for cello, keyboard (sampler) and electronics is a commission
from IRCAM in Paris. Advaya is a Buddhist term for
non-duality “... the dominating wedge-shape which always
leads outer pitches back to the central A of the A-string
is a symbol of unity” (Jonathan Harvey). The music is anchored
on A (a letter much present in the title of the piece AdvAyA).
Electronically processed cello sounds are played back either
on CD or sampler keyboard to provide a ‘sound-carpet’ over
which the cello’s line freely unfolds. This substantial
work may be experienced as a full-scale cello concerto in
all but name, albeit one without orchestra. As such, it
may be compared with Harvey’s earlier Cello Concerto. The
cello part is awfully taxing and makes lavish use of every
modern playing technique, but always with a clear expressive
aim. Harvey’s music may be complex at times; but it never
fails to communicate. Advaya is no exception;
and a full mastery in blending live instrumental sounds
and electronics is again evident from first to last. This
is a marvellous work that generously repays repeated hearings.
describes his two pieces as “composed improvisations”. They
were recorded ‘live’ on a “stormy night” of November 2000.
Both explore and exploit the technical and expressive range
of the cello in a really stunning and dazzling manner; but
there is nothing gratuitous in the proceedings. Both are
superbly done, although a bit too long for some tastes.
I enjoyed them enormously. The dark-hued, ruminative Riti
(to the memory of Giacinto Scelsi) is – to my mind – particularly
impressive and gripping in musical terms.
immaculate playing and committed musicality are simply stunning.
I can understand why Harvey has such a high regard for his
achievement. He navigates almost effortlessly through the
innumerable difficulties of these scores in a most dazzling
manner, but always with a clear view of the overall shape.
This very fine
and generously filled disc is a well deserved tribute to
Deforce’s artistry. It is also a rewarding musical experience
thanks to the Harvey’s pieces and Deforce’s improvisations,
and particularly Riti. There is much substantial
music on display here as well as some superb music making.