Songs and Haiku: unheard songs by Jonathan Harvey

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To mark what would have been Harvey’s 80th birthday in 2019, Faber Music will publish an unreleased collection of songs for mezzo-soprano and piano entitled Songs and Haiku. Two haiku (the first for piano alone – the only piece here to have been published before – the latter by Basho) bookend three love songs dedicated to Harvey’s wife Rosa.

The grouping of pieces was the composer’s own, and mixes Eastern and Western poets in a totally characteristic manner. Both Tagore and E. E. Cummings are represented, poets who feature in some of Harvey’s finest works (Song Offerings and Forms of Emptiness, respectively), and a third song sets Tennyson’s ‘Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal’, and should prove a fascinating comparison with the Britten version. The collection has only been performed once before - at the Aix Festival in 2010. The Aldeburgh Festival will present the UK premiere this summer, with Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Joanna MacGregor.

2019 will also see the long-awaited publication of a new edition of Speakings, Harvey’s 2008 work for orchestra and electronics. Typeset, and with input from Gilbert Nouno who collaborated with Harvey on the electronic element, this major undertaking will make this stunning piece even more accessible to conductors and enthusiasts.