If I was pushed into a corner, and asked to name the most influential, most talented , adept and skilled British Composer of the latter half of the 20th Century, (OK I know I haven’t but just humour me!) well, there should be a few choices. Composers of Integrity and very proficient. Several Composers flit across my brain, but once they have disappeared into a quiet corner, well, there is only one serious contender. One name. Richard Harvey
Richard can do anything. Anything. Apart from his scores for Television, Cinema, and Production Library efforts that make most full blown scores like amateurish, you have Concertos ( Concerto Antico – John Williams), a Oratorio ( The Plague and the Moonflower), a stupendous work, filmed by the BBC amid the splendours of Salisbury Cathedral featuring Roger Chase – Viola, John Williams – Guitar – Kym Amps – soloist etc) and to my knowledge, broadcast one only, still thankfully the CD is still available. This is required listening for anyone with a interest in Richards music. There is also a wonderful Concerto for Viola and Small Orchestra, featuring Roger Chase again, and Premiered back in the 1990’s in Exeter Cathedral, for which I was fortunate enough to attend. This Concerto is available on CD, coupled with Vaughan Williams no less! Then don’t forget his work a featured soloist on many film scores, John Williams, (Harry Potter. Hans Zimmer (The De Vinci Code) and Harry Gregson – Williams (Kingdom of heaven).
Which brings me to the CD in question, EVENSONG. A delightful, peaceful collection of choral music written by Richard and with text’s he has adapted. Here with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, he has fashioned yet another, highly original album of music that it is a real pleasure to settle down and listen to.
We have 10 cues, mostly for Chorus, sometimes on its own, and on occasion with solo instruments. I particularly like The Call for Mixed Chorus and Harp with Strings. This starts with just the Harp so delicate before the strings come in. Et in Arcadia is for Chorus with Percussion, and again Richard’s expertise with instrumentation comes to the fore here. The last band, self-titled EvenSong has the Mixed Chorus joined by Organ, Harp, Recorder and Psaltery. What a way to finish!
It possibly brings into play the question of shall we say how spiritual you have to be to enjoy this. As we all know, the are many roads to self-enlightenment. If you were religious, I feel the music would be of enormous benefit to you, If you weren’t, then you can find peace and contentment for just sitting down, perhaps late at night, at the end of the a strenuous day. As this is a strictly personal review, for myself, I can find God or something spiritual in a piece of music or a favourite book, not in a lifetime of going to Church on Sunday’s.
I don’t find God there. One of my favourite people was Bryan Forbes, and the very last paragraph of his very last book, breaks me up every time I read it. I listen to Richard’s PLAGUE AND THE MOON FLOWER and say to myself; Yes, there must be a God! “The afore mentioned PLAGUE AND THE MOONFLOWER gave a us, if you like, a foretaste of Richard’s choral skills, so of course his new Choral albums would come as no real surprise” Is it any better than Richard’s last album, KYRIE.? Not better, certainly on a par and just as good. Richard is such a good composer that he would never re-cycle old ideas, so shall we say a companion piece. A fitting testament to the continuing ability and integrity of Britain’s finest Richard Harvey.
Review by John Williams. © 2020.
New Choral Music by Richard Harvey