LOU HARRISON (1917-2003): Serenade for Guitar (Harp) and Percussion, for Harp Solo: Jahla, Avalokiteshvara, Music for Bill and me, Beverley’s Troubadour Piece, Serenade, Sonata in Ishtartum, GUIDO FACCHIN (b.1946): The Planets for Harp and Percussion.
Catalogue Number: 05U058
Reference: STR 37123
Description: The main work here is Facchin's 47-minute suite, which is completely unlike another similarly titled piece of which you may be aware. Facchin evokes the ancient world and ancient myths, but also, thanks to the revelations of modern astronomy, representations of the physical nature of the planets - thus glass chimes for ammonia crystals in Jupiter's atmosphere, and the like. Austere, widely spaced harp chords in open intervals, seldom particularly dissonant, produce a sense of archaic ritual, while the percussion (in its broadest sense, including a generous number of other orchestral noisemakers) adds colour and, where appropriate, weight. The bass drum contributes pounding warlike rhythms to Mars, bright bells accompany Mercury, and Uranus - here the primordial deity - is surrounded by the eerie sounds of wind machine, klaxons and gongs. The lyrical Aphrodite (i.e. Venus) adds a second melody instrument - a melodica. Colin Matthews' services were not required; Pluto is included as a depiction of a dark, cavernous and resounding underworld. The work concludes with a lengthy movement about our planet, as Gaia, the Earth Mother, threatened by contemporary environmental concerns. This movement tells a story; the harmony is more conventionally tonal, with melody (including one borrowed from Handel's 'Rinaldo' because why not?) threatened by percussive intrusions in rather obvious but effective metaphor. Harrison's output for various harps (or guitar in arrangements) with optional percussions, makes an attractive foil to the epic suite, in delightful miniatures based on ancient or Eastern modes, decorated with bells and gentle rhythm instruments. Avalokite Duo.