Harvey: Piano Trio; Advaya; Dialogue and Song; Vers; Tombeau de Messiaen; Flight-Elegy

COMPOSERS: Harvey
LABELS: ATMA
ALBUM TITLE: Harvey
WORKS: Piano Trio; Advaya; Dialogue and Song; Vers; Tombeau de Messiaen; Flight-Elegy
PERFORMER: Trio Fibonacci: Julie-Anne Derome (violin), Gabriel Prynn (cello), André Ristic (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ACD2 2254
This Canadian-sourced collection is a curiously mixed bag. British composer Jonathan Harvey’s music always seems to blossom most impressively when he can integrate electronics with his instrumental writing – the eight works he has produced using the resources of IRCAM in Paris include some of his finest achievements.

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One of those, Advaya for cello, sampling keyboard and electronics from 1994, stands out on this disc too as a wonderfully inventive reimagining of the possibilities of the cello and its tonal transformations. This presents a sharp contrast to the much more earthbound soundworlds of most of the acoustic pieces with which it is programmed here.

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The memorial piece Tombeau de Messiaen for piano and pre-recorded tape, also from 1994, is almost as striking, combining live piano sound with its computerised distortions in a genuinely intriguing way. It’s no surprise that Tombeau and Advaya are among Harvey’s most recorded pieces, and it’s the other Harvey works included on the Cyprès disc which make that recording from the Brussels-based Ictus the one to recommend, though Julie-Anne Derome and Gabriel Prynn are persuasive enough advocates here. But even Trio Fibonacci’s best efforts, and the nicely detailed recording cannot do much to make Harvey’s constructivist Piano Trio from 1973 more ingratiating, nor can they achieve real lift off with the cello-and-piano and violin-and-piano pieces Dialogue and Song and Flight-Elegy, (both, like the Trio, released on disc for the first time), for all their carefully studied craftmanship. Andrew Clements