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Daniel Hope - Spheres

With the presence of such composers as Michael Nyman and Karl Jenkins, this might look like a standard-issue British recording of crossover music for violin and other instruments. But actually it's a more complex and more ambitious thing than that. Under the title Spheres, South African-born British violinist Daniel Hope combines crossover heavyweights (even John Rutter is present as creator of the rather soupy arrangement of Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11) with Baroque works, short tonal works by contemporary composers, and minimalists Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass, along with minimalist-leaning but unclassifiable Ludovico Einaudi. The spheres rubric sometimes seems to indicate nothing more definite than something revolves, or moves cyclically within a dynamic system, and the chief appeal of this release may well be to those seeking profundity on the cheap. Yet the range of Hope's choices compels a certain respect. The one work entitled Spheres, by Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergey), is a nifty collection of phrases that proceed from simplicity to chaos, and there are other intriguing short works such as the two excerpts from Lera Auerbach's 24 Preludes for violin and piano, Op. 46. The Baroque pieces are well integrated into the whole; Johann Paul von Westhoff's Imitazione delle campane (Imitation of the Bells), a work from the repertory of solo violin music preceding Bach's sonatas, is not nearly as profound as Hope thinks it is, but it makes an unusual introduction to the whole collection of pieces, which has a positive X factor coming from its combination of surface simplicity and ingenious variety. Worthwhile for anyone looking for a relaxing listen; it will stick in your head in unexpected ways.

Daniel Hope - Spheres

Sagan welcomed Daniel's questions about the night sky, "And he asked me if I knew what the music of the spheres was. And I didn't, of course. And he explained this idea that Pythagoras had had this rather strange, rather surreal idea that when planets move, they brush past each other and they create sounds, sounds that the human ear cannot hear. And yet it's proven, apparently, that they exist. And when I started to research this project, I thought it would be interesting to look at composers' visions of that, and if there were people who could actually write new music around the idea of music of the spheres and then look at other composers and other works that I felt fitted into this journey about taking the listener to a different place."

Even older works on this recording are seen through the fresh eyes of living composers. Baroque specialist Olivier Foures was invited to write a new transcription of Bach's Prelude in e minor. "I'm just absolutely obsessed with Bach. For me he is the greatest composer of all time and so therefore, I thought he had to have a place on this recording. He was also somebody who was very sensitive to...let's call it otherworldly influences. Somebody that infiltrated his music with secret codes, with messages, looked at the structure of the music and tried to measure it - in the same way, I guess, that Pythagoras tried to measure reverberations, which was the basis of his idea on music of the spheres. So it was very difficult to decide which piece to take. So I got in touch with Olivier Foures, who is one of the leading musicologists of our time, somebody who has done an enormous amount of Baroque research, especially for Bach and Vivaldi, and I asked Olivier what he thought, if he might be able to transcribe a work of Bach. We got a short list together and that particular prelude is one I love, and I thought to hear it in string sound rather than piano would also give an arresting quality to the album, and that's something that I was also trying to do."

In his teens, Hope was introduced to the famed astronomer Carl Sagan by the violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin, a meeting that the young musician says opened his mind to the enormities of the universe and to the notion of "music of the spheres."

This brings us to our final question: who are the enemies of thefuture? They are those on both the left and the right of the currentpolitical spectrum. The problem with the left is that it is mired inanti-realist utopian thinking, while the right is entirely uncritical in theface of the technological and economic juggernaut. We are thus besieged byCassandras and Pollyannas, and politics is predictably limp as a result:'reality and efficiency are managed by the right wing, while the left isfree to enjoy the monopoly of unreality. In this way, there are those who areafforded reality without hope and others, hope without reality'(121-122). Of course, the right is winning in the sense that it now controlspolitical reality, so the task of recuperating the future and thusreinvigorating democratic politics lies with the left. But to fulfill itsmission the left must abandon the safe terrain of utopian critique--expressedfor instance in the knee-jerk rejection of globalization--and challenge theright on its own terms. Climate change (among other things) surely requiresjust this sort of re-orientation. Our inertia has its roots in an ideologicalstruggle that is undermining our ability to respond wisely to the risks wenow face on this front. Our only hope is in the political sphere, butpolitics must first be liberated from ideology.

This deterioration, which has very serious practical implications, is taking place in the spheres of values, moral codes, norms and laws, so often people do not pay attention to them. They can live comfortably without exercising their right to freedom, without defending the rights of others or without observing discrimination, oppression or exploitation carried by their own society. This has happened in many places in the world, often directly affecting the fate of the Jewish people.

Our work has never been more crucial. And as dark as it seems, there are still glimmers of hope. The popularity of outright fascism has woken people up, both in Israel-Palestine and across the world, to the dangerous repercussions of what may soon come. Palestinians and Israelis who believe in a just future are already organizing and strategizing to put up the fight of their lives. 041b061a72


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