Harvey: Scena: Jubilus; Speakings

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Harvey
LABELS: Aeon
WORKS: Scena; Jubilus; Speakings
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Layton (violin), Scott Dickinson (viola); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
CATALOGUE NO: AECD 1090

Advertisement

A disc of three vocal works and yet there are no voices as such. The soloist in Scena, written 1992 for violin and ensemble, takes the role of a singing actor in a sequence of tableaux, with voice and drama in mind’s eye. The result is a gestural work that, in Elizabeth Layton’s crystalline performance, is also unashamedly lyrical.

Jubilus (2002) begins seemingly in response, though from a gruffer character, and not just because the soloist is now a viola, compellingly played by Scott Dickinson. The inspirations here are plainchant and Buddhist ritual. Bell sounds contrast with trombone rasping then ululating, presumably evoking the chanting of Tibetan monks. As so often in Harvey’s music, any sense of time is dissolved.

Advertisement

Speakings (2007-08) is generally much more fleet-footed, cheeky even, as Harvey plays with the resources of a full orchestra supplemented by electronics. As in Scena and Jubilus, Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra play with immense grace and finesse. Christopher Dingle