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Johnathan Dove : A Brief History of Creation

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Josep Pons conductor
Hallé Children's Choir - Hallé / Sir Mark Elder conductor

NMC D233

D147 Cover
• This is Jonathan Dove's first appearance on NMC Recordings.

• ‘Not since Benjamin Britten has a British composer succeeded in writing operas which communicate with such clarity and coherence to their audience as those by Jonathan Dove’ - Gramophone.

Both pieces on this album were inspired by scientific ideas about the world we live in.   Title track A Brief History of Creation, commissioned by The Hallé Concerts Society for its Children's Choir, is a fantastic romp through 14 billion years of history, from cell division (the choir reduced to one single, tiny voice) to dinosaurs, sharks, monkeys and finally to man.   The Guardian said of its premiere in 2016 ‘Dove has a remarkable aptitude for writing music that is challenging to sing, stimulating to listen to, yet simple to remember.   The outstanding Hallé Children's Choir covered almost 14 billion years entirely from memory.’ Inspiration for the piece was sparked by a visit to a James Turrell art installation.   “It gave me the feeling of looking through space to the first stars: it started children's voices singing in my mind's ear, surrounded by twinkling percussion.   I found myself wondering about the beginning of the universe … I thought it would be fun to sing about the birth of the Earth and the beginning of life,” Dove explains.   Dove and the librettist Alasdair Middleton picked “the best bits of the story” and the children perform it on this live recording with gusto.

Gaia Theory was inspired by a trip Dove took to the Arctic – a project called Cape Farewell, organised to allow artists to witness climate change first-hand.   Dove says the experience woke him up to the speed and scale of changes taking place: on return, he wondered how it might be possible ‘to write about this without finger-wagging.’   Dove turned to the work of scientist James Lovelock, who developed the idea that the Earth behaves as a self-regulating organism, which always maintains a balance favourable for life.   Lovelock himself describes this relationship as a dance, making it natural for Dove to set to music.   The resulting piece is a celebration of the resilience of life.

A Brief History of Creation
[  1.] Stars         4'31
[  2.] Earth         2'54
[  3.] Rain         3'04
[  4.] Ocean         5'04
[  5.] Shark         3'06
[  6.] Out of the Ocean         2'29
[  7.] Trees         2'44
[  8.] Dinosaurs         5'46
[  9.] Birds         1'03
[10.] Whales Return to the Sea         5'44
[11.] Elephants         3'09
[12.] Monkeys         2'42
[13.] Man         5'09
Hallé • Sir Mark Elder conductor
Hallé Children's Choir • Shirley Court choir director

Gaia Theory
[14.] I         8'33
[15.] II         7'44
[16.] III         5'30
BBC Symphony Orchestra • Josep Pons conductor

Total timing         69'31

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