'The score sounds like the work of a 21st-century Debussy in its precise yet shimmering array of colour, timbre and gesture.' The Financial Times


3(III=picc & afl).3(III=ca).3 in A (II=ebcl, III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) - 4.3 (I&II=fl.hn, III=tpt in D).3.1 - timp (4 drums = large tamb) - perc(4): glsp/crot/mar/SD/3 susp.cym/whip/string drum/vib/wood chimes/dustbin/tumba/large tamb/sleigh bells/Chinese opera gong/2 tam-t/t.bells/hyoshigi/2 sizz.cym/claves/tom-t/BD/2 tgl/2 anvils/2 miniature wdbl/very large sleigh bells/antique cymbals - hp - pno - strings


Score on sale (HPOD1012) Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

The Discovery of Heaven is a three movement work inspired by the novel of the same name by the Dutch writer Harry Mulisch. Other influences on the piece include the music of Japanese Gagaku (or Court Music) which dates from 9th century AD, and the music of Janacek. The first movement, ‘An Echo from Heaven’, is extremely slow, almost motionless. Its textures were partly prompted by the acoustic analysis of Gagaku, especially the Japanese mouth organ called ‘sho’. The second movement, called ‘In the Street’, is an increasingly rowdy set of street parades, demonstrations and dances which, just as it threatens to get totally out of hand, topples over into the third movement, ‘Hymns.’ This pits two types of music against each other: very long and lyrical melodic lines, mainly on brass; and increasingly strident and disruptively raucous noises – debris from the ‘street music’ in the second movement – which attempt to stop the progress of the lyrical melodies. The more the melodies are attacked, the stronger and faster they get.

The Discovery of Heaven is dedicated to Jonathan Harvey.

Julian Anderson


‘It is hard to think of any work in the modern orchestral canon with a title as appetising as Anderson’s new tone poem. And it would be equally hard, to imagine music more seductive in atmosphere or finely etched in orchestration... not so much a spiritual quest as an exploration of heaven on earth, evoking sounds of a balmy summer night as well as the joyful, tuneful humanity of a sun-blessed city street. There could be no more emphatic proof of Anderson’s growing confidence with and mastery of a large instrumental palette... the score sounds like the work of a 21st-century Debussy in its precise yet shimmering array of colour, timbre and gesture.'
Financial Times (Andrew Clark), 26 March 2012

'First, "An Echo from Heaven": a movement spangled with very short notes on flute, harp and pizzicato strings, caught up and stabilised in longer chimes, pulses and resonances – and with a sound palette inspired by the Japenese sho mouth organ. And then "In the Street": a contrasting bustle of feverish and fretting fragments, with echoes of buskers, dancers and protesters in seemingly random shock and aftershock, all jostling for our attention. This “topples over”, as the composer has it, into "Hymns", an almost Ivesian coexistence of two layers of music: veiled, withdrawn strings and brass, and a variety of unpitched and dissonant accents and noises. They fight it out – but by the end, it’s not clear who has won. This was done with all the artistry and assurance for which Anderson is renowned.'
The Times (Hilary Finch), 26 March 2012

'Anderson's striking new work takes its title from Harry Mulisch's 1992 novel. The vast sweep of that book, juxtaposing the mythic and timeless with the contemporary and the everyday, was a starting point for Anderson's abstract, 22-minute piece, in which rapt, slowly moving textures vie for dominance with music that is rowdy and discontinuous. It is a gripping journey in three movements... An opening haze of glassy, spectral chords and fidgety woodwind is followed by tumbling ideas that jostle for prominence; these overflow into the last section, which reaches a kind of accommodation.'
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 25 March 2012

The Discovery of Heaven

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre (London, United Kingdom)

John Storgårds, London Philharmonic Orchestra