From Ancient Worlds
for harmonic piano
Through the miracle of just intonation -- the art of tuning to the ratios found in the natural overtone series -- Harrison evokes glorious clouds of harmonics, from which emerge peals of divine thunder, angel choirs, celestial bells.
"From Ancient Worlds" is an allegory for a journey of the soul. "Song of the Rose," representing the soul, is the central theme of the work, and is presented in the style of a chorale (although it also appears in numerous variations, such as "Quest for the Rose", "Epiphany" and "Rose of Remembrance"). Various motifs, cadences and harmonic relationships from "Song of the Rose" are echoed in other parts of the work as well, depicting the soul's return in different guises as it travels through the imaginary landscapes of the various sections.
At the end of its journey, "Song of the Rose" returns in the elegiac "Rose of Remembrance", where phrases are juxtaposed with flashbacks of the major themes of the work. This is a metaphor for what is believed to be one of the first experiences of the afterlife: seeing life pass before your eyes in the presence of a Being of Light. "Rose of Remembrance" reaches for a glimpse behind the veil of our reality as it explores the experience of passage into the other world. What once existed is never completely finished, and as the soul lives on, so the final note of "From Ancient Worlds" is left unresolved.
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Visions de l'Amen
featuring Double Edge: Edmund Niemann & Nurit Tilles, pianos
Niemann and Tilles play like one person with four very powerful hands and the recording is as crystalline as Messiaen's religious vision: * * * *
I. Amen of the Creation
Amen, so be it! "God said, 'Let there be light!' And there was light!" (Genesis)
II. Amen of the Stars, of the Ringed Planet
A savage and brutal dance. The stars, suns, and Saturn the planet with its multicolored ring, rotate violently. "God called them, and they said, 'Amen here we are!'" (Baruch).
III. Amen of the Agony of Jesus
Jesus suffers and weeps. "My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (St. Matthew)
IV. Amen of Desire
There are two themes of desire. The first, slow, ecstatic and yearning with deep tenderness: already the peaceful perfume of Paradise. The second is extermely passionate; here the soul is torn by terrible love that appears carnal (see the "Song of Songs"), but there is nothing carnal about it, only a paroxysm of the thirst of Love.
V. Amen of the Angels, Saints and Birdsong
Song of the purity of the saints: Amen. The exultant calling of the birds: Amen. "The angels fall prostrate before the throne: Amen." (Revelation)
VI. Amen of the Judgement
Three notes frozen like the bell of evidence. In verity, I say to you, Amen. "Accused, get thee hence!" (St. Matthew)
VII. Amen of the Consummation
Consummaton, Paradise. The life of the bodies in glory, in a carillon of light, "the shining light that shineth more and more." (Prophets)
Vikings of the Sunrise
Featuring the Bowed Piano Ensemble of Colorado College
... the first truly provocative work of new music for the '90s.
Vikings of the Sunrise is a composition for bowed piano on themes of navigation, exploration and discovery in the Pacific from ancient times until the present era. The term "vikings of the sunrise" was coined by the noted Maori/Irish ethnologist Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa) to denote the intrepid seafaring peoples who first settled the islands of the "Great Ocean of Kiwa." They set out, probably from Indonesia, as early as 1500 B.C. or before; paddling and sailing from the West, ever toward the sunrise, they populated island after island throughout the central and south Pacific, sometimes traversing vast expanses of open sea, eventually reaching as far east as Easter Island and perhaps South America; to the north they discovered and colonized Hawai'i, and to the south New Zealand. They were the first Polynesians, and probably the first long-distance ocean navigators.
"Vikings of the Sunset" refers to the European explorers of the Pacific, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan, who first rounded South America from the Atlantic, sailing ever toward the setting sun to discover new trade routes and new lands to colonize (and Christianize as well), and to help complete the map of the world by proving finally that the earth was a sphere and could be sailed around. There are also references to the great explorer Captain James Cook and the latter-day anthropologist, adventurer and iconoclast Thor Heyerdahl.
While the themes outlined above provided the general inspiration for "Vikings of the Sunrise," the music should not be thought of as depicting a specific program or story. Rather it consists of sound patterns aroused in my own imagination by ancient and heroic sagas told of men and women who traveled the "Great Ocean of Kiwa."
Whatever those people are doing inside the piano, the result outside the piano is an expansion of space and time.
--NPR's All Things Considered
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