JONATHAN HARVEY (b.1939): Wagner Dream.
Catalogue Number: 11O077
Description: Wagner Dream is based on the hitherto largely unimportant (because it led to almost no concrete results) detail of Wagner's biography that in the last three decades of his life the composer developed an interest in Buddhism. He sketched a synopsis for a Buddhist opera based on the story of Prakriti and Ananda, with its theme of withdrawal from the world as a means of achieving redemption, but never took the project any further. This paradoxical preoccupation of the worldly composer, and the idea of an opera on a Buddhist theme appealed to Harvey, with his own long-standing immersion in Buddhist spirituality. Thus his work juxtaposes Wagner's final moments, in Venice in 1883, with an imagined 'timeless moment' in which Wagner's state of mind at the moment of his death, crucial in Buddhist philosophy, is linked to the completion - in his own mind - of his opera. This opera is, of course, Harvey's own creation, entirely in his own musical terms (with allusions here and there to Wagnerian harmony, but arguably those might have been there anyway, in Harvey's complex harmonic vocabulary). The idiom of the piece throughout is instantly recognizable as Harvey, with the familiar emphasis on the sound of words and the meanings of sound and the effortless, seamless integration of richly textured electronic sound into the instrumental fabric, such that it is often hard to tell where one ends and the other takes up the intricate, detailed texture. The scenes around Wagner's deathbed are spoken, with harsh, tolling, fragmentary sounds; those of the imaginary opera blend voluptuous texture and rich color with suggestions of temple drums and gongs, chanting and soaring melismatic vocal lines. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Claire Booth (soprano), Gordon Gietz (tenor), Matthew Best (bass), Dale Duesing (baritone), Ictus Ensemble; Martyn Brabbins.