JOHN OLIVER (b.1959): Forging Utopia (National Arts Centre Orchestra; David Alan Miller), Unseen Rain for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra (Judith Forst [mezzo], CBC Vancouver Orchestra; Mario Bernardi), Face in the Abstract (Windsor Symphony Orchestra; John Morris Russell), Raven Steals the Light (CBC Radio Orchestra; Jacques Lacombe).
Catalogue Number: 07O089
Reference: CMCCD 17614
Description: Oliver likes to have a lot going on in his music, while retaining direct emotional connection with the audience. Thus the dense textures of Forging Utopia, an optimistic mélange of cultural and musical visions of the past and future, inspired by the then-looming millennium, initially sound overwhelming, but reveal themselves to be formed of material as commonplace and familiar as national anthems, and ultimately resolve into an ostinato-driven refrain of a modal theme - a bit like Hovhaness - that brings the piece to a triumphant conclusion. Unseen Rain, settings of Rumi in translation, mirrors the verbal effusiveness of the texts in music that builds up layers of texture, in a broadly tonal, timbrally imaginative idiom. Face, like Utopia builds complex layers of familiar-sounding fragments, freely associating cultural referents in new and unexpected ways. Raven depicts a rather convoluted Native American Prometheus-like myth about the origin of light. The music is strongly programmatic, the shapes of the material world emerging in tumultuously juxtaposed allusions to familiar music and musical styles from an initially atonal chaos. No texts.