Donald Macleod is in the company of British composer Jonathan Harvey, a fastidious craftsman whose works are very much music of integration, often bringing together different worlds: cutting-edge electronics and traditional instruments, past and present, material and ethereal.
Harvey is singularly thoughtful about his own art and the process by which he makes it, but he is not a composer with his head in the clouds - he is very much hands-on when it comes to computer technology and electronics, and how they can be harnessed to open up new worlds of the imagination.
He is a composer whose work encompasses the realms of bliss as well as the practicalities and imperfections of the world of real instruments and earthly musicians. In an interview some time ago, he asked himself what the purpose of music is: 'It is, in my view, to reveal the nature of suffering and to heal - the one big question of existence.'
Including a hymn to Angels (an abiding interest of Harvey's, and he is often conscious of their presence in everyday life), and the now-classic electronic work Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, whose two main sonic components are the great tenor bell of Winchester Cathedral and the treble voice of Harvey's own son Dominic (who was a Winchester chorister in the late 1970s). Plus a pair of viola pieces that evoke the image of a remote Tibetan monastery; and Song Offerings, a magical song-cycle set to the words of Rabindranath Tagore, and one of the composer's most beautiful and accessible works.
The Angels (1994) for unaccompanied double SATB chorus
Latvian Radio Choir
By permission of Latvian Radio - to be released on Hyperion
Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980, remixed 1999) for quadraphonic tape
Sargasso SCD 28029, Tr 2
Chant (1992) for solo viola
Christophe Desjardins (viola)
Live concert recording, Palais du Rhin, 28 September 2003
By permission of Christophe Desjardins
Jubilus (2003) for viola and ensemble of 8 players
Scott Dickinson (viola)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Ilan Volkov (conductor)
Song Offerings (1985) for soprano and ensemble of eight players (settings of poems by Rabindranath Tagore)
1: First Song; 2: Second Song; 3: Third Song; 4: Fourth Song
Penelope Walmsley-Clark (soprano)
George Benjamin (conductor)
Nimbus NI 5649, Trs 8-11.