Postcard from Heaven | New World Records NW80763

Postcard from Heaven


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Label: New World Records

Cat No: NW80763

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 10th August 2015



John Cage (1912–1992) composed In a Landscape in 1948. The work’s title is revealing: Cage places both sound and its hearing in an environment. Postcard From Heaven (1992), for 1 to 20 harps, was one of Cage’s last works. The work consists of a collection of 'ragas' (predetermined scale patterns featuring set pedal configurations for the harp), that the performers are free to choose how many and in which order they wish to play. Performers are instructed to begin and end the piece using e-bows, a magnetic device that causes steels strings to vibrate without being plucked. The e-bow creates a soft, sustained tone one would rather expect for a postcard from a destination such as heaven.

James Tenney’s (1934–2006) Harmonium No.3 (1980) brings three harps together in an ensemble that deceives the ear, sounding like a single instrument. 

Alexander Tcherepnin (1899–1977) lived a musical life that spanned the globe. His music reflects his diverse experiences and the many cultures which he came in contact with during his life. Tcherepnin’s Quatre Caprices Diatoniques (1977) are brief musical bonbons originally intended for the non-pedal Breton harp. They work equally well on modern pedal harps, as played here by Ms. Allen.

Gloria Coates’ (b.1938) score for Perchance to Dream (2014) is deceptively simple. Her use of triadic harmonies and diatonic melody is modified by altering the tuning of the harp and the bowing of the vibraphone. These key characteristics create the piece’s hallmark otherworldly quality.

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