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Notes from Spoleto: Michael Harrison

Tim Page, my much-admired predecessor at The Washington Post who is now a professor at the University of Southern California, is doing a second stint this summer as the guest critic for the Charleston Post and Courier covering the Spoleto Festival. I was delighted to see yesterday that he has discovered Michael Harrison's remarkable piece "Revelation." I picked the recording of this piece as one of my favorite CD's for 2007 (scroll down to find my brief summation); it's a remarkable exploration of just intonation that creates its own distinctive sound-world. Worth a listen.

Though the Charleston City Paper's Spoleto blog observed an unexpected side effect of all of those unusual, in-between notes from Harrison's specially-tuned piano. Evidently they set off people's hearing aids. (This page also includes a sound clip that gives you an idea of what this haunting, hypnotic, utterly distinctive music sounds like.)

Spoleto 2009 doesn't have much classical music in comparison to some past seasons -- though much attention is being given to the fact that it's Charles Wadsworth's last year at the head of the festival's chamber music series, where he, with his long, rambling, down-home spoken interludes between pieces, has become a veritable institution. But Tim praised the lone opera offering this year, Charpentier's "Louise."

By Anne Midgette  |  May 29, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  national  
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Next: In Performance: Philippe Manoury's "Partita I"

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