'…towards a pure land' reviews

'…towards a pure land - the first of his commissions as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's Composer in Association - was a deeply felt orchestral meditation.  The music was as sensuous as it was moving... Harvey's piece was the perfect way to assess the magnificently revamped City Halls in Glasgow ...towards a pure land began with a rustle of strings trills and percussive shimmers.  On top of this musical stasis chirruped choruses of birdsong in the woodwind before an explosive dance for full orchestra.
Harvey's "pure land" comes from Buddhist philosophy, a "state of mind beyond suffering", but the piece is no mere bland depiction of unalloyed bliss.  Instead, the relationship between the Ensemble of Eternal Sound, with its music of still contemplation, and the worldly activity in the rest of the orchestra made for a dynamic, unpredictable experience.'
The Guardian (Tom Service) 21 January 2006

'A new commission from its composer in association, Jonathan Harvey appropriately titled …towards a pure land, shimmered and twittered, fragments of melody and strands of harmony dancing weightlessly, the material tossed enticingly between a discreet string ensemble and the orchestra in full, glorious voice at the work's glowing extremes.'
The Independent (Lynne Walker) 27 January 2006

'… the piece specifies an array of effects which one suspects the makers of the player's instruments never imagined.  The sounds conjured by this most gentle of modernists were at times eerie, at times dreamy, at times something like morning prayer at a Buddhist temple.  The out and back structure - suggestive of the journey implicit in the title - was clear enough, but it was aural landscape that caught the attention.  A new work by Harvey is an event in itself.'
The Times (Robert Dawson Scott) 23 January 2006

'… it's above all the extraordinary colours of this music, selected from a vast orchestral palette with a huge quotient of percussion, that strike the listener immediately and linger powerfully in the memory.  This vibrant and visionary piece, precisely written and skilfully organised, struck an instant and positive response from the audience.'
The Observer (George Hall) 29 January 2006

'… a shimmering soundscape that blossoms into tentative solos, before brittle percussion signals an increase in tempo and a headlong rush towards the first big climax.  There are moments of jangling energy, yet the Buddhist inspiration behind the work makes it essentially meditative in nature.'
The Sunday Telegraph (John Allison), 29 January 2006

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