JULIAN ANDERSON (b.1967): Heaven is Shy of Earth for Mezzo-Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra, The Comedy of Change for Chamber Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 11U070
Reference: ODE 1313-2
Description: Both of these rich, colorful and appealing scores celebrate the wonders, beauties and mysteries of the natural world. Heaven is Shy of Earth is not a Mass, but sets texts from the Roman liturgy, interwoven with Emily Dickinson's poem from which it takes its title, to exalt the glories of the Earth in terms usually reserved for the praise of Heaven. The Mass-derived sections - most of the work - are impressive, culminating in a jubilant Sanctus with the life-affirming power of Nature's great forces. This sense of energy is present throughout; the expression "Mass of Life" fits this work at least as well as it does Delius' Nietzschean paean of praise to Humankind's supremacy. As we commented on Anderson's works a couple of years ago: "he uses harmony as the primary evolving feature of his argument - not according to the strictures of tonality, but with a strong sense of harmonic movement that can sound tonal but with a certain weightlessness due to its freedom from fixed tonal gravitational centers.", which is equally true of both these works. The Comedy of Change was written for dance, based on the erratic, sometimes freakish, processes of Darwinian evolution. The unpredictability of natural change is depicted in the work's lively rhythms, and birds and scurrying creatures are strongly suggested (and in the very slow second movement, the lumbering of Galápagos tortoises!), enhancing the 'comedy' of the title, in the archaic sense of a series of accidents leading to a happy outcome. Texts included. Susan Bickley (mezzo), London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Oliver Knussen.