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Jonathan Little: Polyhymnia

Little / Kiev Philharmonic Orch / Winstin
Release Date: 02/28/2012 
Label:  Navona   Catalog #: 5867   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Petr VronskyRobert Ian WinstinPhilip Simms
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moravian Philharmonic OrchestraKiev Philharmonic OrchestraCzech Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LITTLE Polyhymnia 1. Terpsichore. 2 Fanfare. Sacred Prelude. Missa Temporis Perditi: Kyrie 5 1 Petr Vronský, 2,3,4 Robert Ian Winstin, 5 Philip Simms, cond; 1 Moravian PO; Read more class="SUPER12">2,3 Kiev PO; 4 Czech PO; Thomas Tallis CC NAVONA NV5867 (52:04)

Jonathan David Little was born in Australia in 1965. According to the ancient Greeks, the Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the personification of memory. Later, the Romans assigned a specific function to each girl. To Calliope, they gave epic poetry; to Clio, history; to Euterpe, flute playing and lyric poetry; to Thalia, comedy and pastoral poetry; to Melpomene, tragedy; to Terpsichore, dance; to Erato, love poetry; to Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; and to Urania, astronomy. As you can see, there is no muse totally devoted to music, but it’s interesting to recall how many theaters, musical instruments, and recording companies have borne the names of the muses. In the booklet that accompanies this recording, Little states his intention to write pieces on all nine Muses, but on this disc he writes of only Polyhymnia and Terpsichore.

Polyhymnia has a tonal base and multiple parts for strings whose melodic figures coalesce into an enormous tapestry of musical color. It’s excellent music for dreaming! This music can waft the listener back to a pastoral scene in ancient Greece, where the gods spend lazy days basking in the sun on Mount Olympus. Terpsichore , the dance muse, whirls across the stage of your mind, but somehow she seems to have a flair for percussion and modern, Western music. This muse is an athletic dancer who keeps drumsticks in her hand so she can beat the drums between turns as she dances across the stage. It would be interesting to hear this music played in an ancient Greek theater like the one at Epidaurus. The stereo recording of this piece is interesting; you can hear the sounds of the instruments and the birds coming from different sides of the orchestra.

Little’s Fanfare is exactly what you want from a short piece intended to draw attention to what comes next, and the Sacred Prelude can put the listener in the mood for meditating on deep ritualistic mysteries. Little leaves the best for last. The highlight of this disc is the Kyrie from his Missa Temporis Perditi , a work he began in 1985 and completed 20 years later. It is an eloquent and expansive work sung here by the Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir, a large a cappella group from which conductor Philip Simms draws opulent sonorities. Little composes with a great array of technical skills and his works are both harmonically and contrapuntally pleasing. He knows how to bring out all the colors of the choral palette, and that is what makes the Kyrie such a fascinating piece. I want to hear the rest of the Mass.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Polyhymnia "She of Many Hymns", Op. 10 by Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Petr Vronsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Terpsichore "The Whirler", Op. 7 by Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Robert Ian Winstin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra
Fanfare, Op. 3a by Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Robert Ian Winstin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra
Sacred Prelude, Op. 1 by Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Robert Ian Winstin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Missa Temporis Perditti, Op. 5: Kyrie by Jonathan Little
Conductor:  Philip Simms
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir

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