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Harle: Terror and Magnificence / Harle, Costello, Leonard


Release Date: 05/13/1997 
Label:  Argo   Catalog #: 452605   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John Harle
Performer:  John HarleJohn Harle BandElvis CostelloMitch Dalton,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

John Harle's saxophone playing is what provides the thread which runs through the whole album, and no one who has heard him before will need to be told what fine, alluring silk that can be made of.

"The double-think of the medieval mind" is John Harle's definition of "Terror and Magnificence", the title he gives to this album pulling together some of the strands of his recent projects as composer and saxophonist. The clearest medievalisms are in the album's two most substantial and ambitious pieces. The title-track, a 20-minute meditation on a text by Machaut, originated in an improvisation Harle recorded in Christchurch, Spitalfields, for BBC 2's programme The Score. Machaut's words, says Harle,
Read more "mirrored the gut feeling" he experienced in the church, and are spoken by an actor over an ever-changing, essentially unmelodic accompaniment from saxophones, keyboards, percussion and an appropriately medieval-sounding chant choir. Although Harle cannot resist illustrating certain individual words such as "cantus", "estampie" and "hoquet" fin a manner irresistibly reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells), his approach is mainly one of broad atmospherics; the section depicting the terrified anguish of the sinner is fearsomely effective, and the piece ends in an exhilarating wash of multitracked saxophones (40, according to the programme-notes). Rosie-Blood is a more active piece, based as it is on Pêrotin's four-part organum Sederunt principes. Harle does not alter it much; countertenor William Purefoy sings one part while a male choir chants the drone-like lower line, eventually to be joined by discreet saxophones on the remaining parts. Nothing is really added in the way of melodic material, but a lightly varied accompaniment is stirred in, ranging from driving drums to throbbing bass clarinet.

Rosie-Blood first saw light of day as The Prince's Verdict at the 1995 South Bank Meltdown Festival, and it is that event's co-ordinator, Elvis Costello, who turns up to sing Mistress Mine, three songs Harle composed in 1994 for a production of Twelfth Night. Despite a squealing saxophone prelude they are pretty gentle stuff; Costello — close-miked and with plenty of vibrato—is a touching presence who manages to instil the music with a truly haunting English melancholy. Also memorable is Sarah Leonard's boyish, occasionally stratospheric contribution to The Three Ravens, another song-cycle, this time to traditional English texts. As in the Shakespeare settings, the actual melodic material here is somewhat stilted, but helped out by resourceful accompaniments from members of Harle's band. In the end, though, it is Harle's own saxophone playing which does most to keep everything afloat, and in so doing provides the thread which runs through the whole album. And no one who has heard him before will need to be told what fine, alluring silk that can be made of.

-- Gramophone [11/1996]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mistress Mine by John Harle
Performer:  John Harle (Keyboards), John Harle Band (Double Bass), Elvis Costello (Vocal),
Mitch Dalton (Guitar), John Harle (Saxophone), Steve Lodder (Keyboards)
2.
Terror and Magnificence by John Harle
Performer:  John Harle (Keyboards), John Harle Band (Double Bass), Elvis Costello (Vocal),
Mitch Dalton (Guitar), John Harle (Saxophone), Steve Lodder (Keyboards)
3.
The Three Ravens by John Harle
Performer:  John Harle (Keyboards), John Harle Band (Double Bass), Elvis Costello (Vocal),
Mitch Dalton (Guitar), John Harle (Saxophone), Steve Lodder (Keyboards)
4.
Hunting the Hare by John Harle
Performer:  John Harle (Keyboards), John Harle Band (Double Bass), Elvis Costello (Vocal),
Mitch Dalton (Guitar), John Harle (Saxophone), Steve Lodder (Keyboards)
5.
Rosie-Blood (Sederunt) by John Harle
Performer:  John Harle (Keyboards), John Harle Band (Double Bass), Elvis Costello (Vocal),
Mitch Dalton (Guitar), John Harle (Saxophone), Steve Lodder (Keyboards)

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