...towards a pure land

Jonathan Harvey (1939)

...towards a pure land 2005

3(III=picc).3.3(III=bcl).3 - 5331 - perc(5) - harp - cel - strings (14.12.10.8.6)
Duration 
16
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

A small string ensemble, hidden on the stage, starts this work and stays peacefully behind the sound for much of the time. It is called the Ensemble of Eternal Sound. The main orchestra moves through varied types of idea until a central point, after which it moves progressively back to the first idea, making an arch, but an arch with developments. The centre itself is not solid, rather it is an emptiness, an empty presence. There is sound but only insubstantial pitch. In the surrounding music, the tempi are often fluid, the ideas are fleeting: things arise, then cease, in an unending flow. To grasp them and fix them would be to distort them falsely. A Pure Land is a state of mind beyond suffering where there is no grasping. It has also been described in Buddhist literature as landscape – a model of the world to which we can aspire. Those who live there do not experience ageing, sickness or any other suffering. There is no poverty or fighting, and no danger from fire, water, wind or earth. The environment is completely pure, clean, and very beautiful, with mountains, lakes, trees and delightful birds revealing the meaning of Dharma. There are also gardens filled with heavenly flowers, bathing pools and exquisite jewels covering the ground which make it completely pure and smooth. ‘Touching it gives rise to bliss’. This work is the first fruit of the composer’s association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and their principal conductor, Ilan Volkov. It is the first of three commissions from them and is dedicated to them in gratitude.

Jonathan Harvey

Performances 
19.1.06 City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
20.1.06 Aberdeen: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins
9.8.06 BBC Proms, London: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
28/29/30.9.06 Washington DC, USA: National Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
1.2.07 City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
11.3.07 Ars Musica Festival, Brussels: Orchestre National de Belgique/Matthias Pintscher
24.10.08 ISCM World Music Days, Vilnius, Lithuania: Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra/Peter Eötvös
9.6.11 Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria: Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Peter Eötvös
13.8.11 Edinburgh International Festival: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
21.10.11 Royal Academy of Music, London: Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins
27.9.13 Bochum, Germany: WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Ilan Volkov
30.1.16 Cite de la Musqiue, Paris: Orchestre du Conservatoire de Paris/Matthias Pintscher
7.7.17 Munich, Germany: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Pintscher
3
Flute
3rd doubling piccolo
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
5
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
5
Percussion
crotales, glass chimes, sizzle cymbal, 3 woodblocks, 5 temple blocks, wind machine, 2 Tibetan bells, xylophone, large bell plate, mark tree, maracas, 2 oriental finger cymbals, 3 suspended cymbals, brass chimes, 2 triangle, tam-tam, slit drum, bass drum, 2 tom-toms, 2 bongos, geophone, medium-small bamboos, vibraphone, glass or metal chimes, sandpaper blocks
14
Violin
12
Violin II
10
Viola
8
Cello
6
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
celesta
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