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Harrison Birtwistle: The Triumph of Time / Gawain's Journey [Import]

Sir Harrison Birtwistle , Elgar Howarth , Philharmonia Orchestra Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Elgar Howarth
  • Composer: Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Audio CD (August 24, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Collins Classics
  • ASIN: B000003VXW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,020 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Triumph of Time: Quarter note=c.40
2. The Triumph of Time: 4 + 5
3. The Triumph of Time: 10 + 1
4. The Triumph of Time: 14 - 6
5. The Triumph of Time: 19
6. The Triumph of Time: 21
7. The Triumph of Time: 31
8. The Triumph of Time: 37
9. The Triumph of Time: 37
10. Gawain's Journey: Intro
11. Gawain's Journey: The Opening of the Door
12. Gawain's Journey: The Challenge
13. Gawain's Journey: The Court becomes Visible
14. Gawain's Journey: He strike the Blow
15. Gawain's Journey: Lullaby
16. Gawain's Journey: Vision of the Hunt I
17. Gawain's Journey: Seduction Scene
18. Gawain's Journey: Vision of the Hunt II
19. Gawain's Journey: The Journey
20. Gawain's Journey: Vision of the Hunt III
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Triumph of Time (1972) was Birtwistle's first major composition for large orchestra that brought him to wider public attention. In it he explored a novel approach to form, not the linear unfolding and development of themes so typical of the Western classical music tradition but an architecture in which the same elements will constantly recur in different contexts, as an object seen from various angles, or an "Imaginary Landscape" (the title of another of his compositions from 1971) in which, to use the composer's own words, "one starts, stops, moves around, looks at the overall view, fixes one's attention on a particular feature or on a detail of that feature or on a fragment of that detail or on the texture of that fragment". The title refers to an engraving by Pieter Brueghel the elder from 1574 depicting the inexorable, unstoppable progress of Time (shown as an old bearded man on a cart) as it trundles over everything in its path. The music is mostly processional, slow-moving, dirge-like. There are more fully-fledged melodies than in Birtwistle's later works (significant roles are attributed to soprano saxophone and English horn), and the orchestra displays many fascinating and mysterious colors. This composition is more easily accessible than many later works of this composer. The premiere recording by Boulez and the BBC SO was published in 1975 on Argo ZRG 790 (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Series #8, paired with Chronometer, a tape composition) and, as far as I am aware, has not been reissued on CD, so this is the only one available. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two major orchestral works from 1971 and 1991 July 13, 2011
"The Triumph of Time" (29'38) is one of Harrison Birtwistle's key early works, written in 1971-2. Along with "Verses for Ensembles," it is a site for " approach to musical and dramatic time that abandons conventional linear narrative but treats past, present and future as interchangeable or simultaneous" (from the fine liner notes by Andrew Clements). It paved the way for his massive opera "The Mask of Orpheus," as an essential strand in the legend is the passage of time and its irreversibility. Birtwistle first conceived of the "Orpheus" opera in 1970. "Time" is a slow, grinding procession -- it does not dance in the slightest (as does the later "Earth Dances" for orchestra of 1986), and is not the most accessible introduction to the composer's work. It is a vast abstract slab in nine movements, dark and forbidding, with a massive climax in the penultimate eighth movement, but once you come to appreciate Birtwistle, you might, as I, come to hear it as fascinating in its slow-moving changes, similar to the revolving prism of small changes in the late Feldman, but on a more vast and rugged sonic terrain.

This was the first Birtwistle composition to be inspired by Peter Breughel the Elder's painting, but not the last. It depicts Time as a bearded figure in a cart at the head of a procession that includes Death and Fame, crushing the ephemera of human existence under its wheels. Only the cyclical events are impervious -- the tides, the changing seasons, and winds.
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