Friday, 7 November 2008

Harry Crowl

Harry Crowl is a new name to me. His name suggests a character from a Hitchcock movie, but he's a Brazilian composer whose music has had rather a grip on me the past few days. I found his music through the blogsite called Brazilian Concert music, and downloaded the 3rd and 4th Symphonies. These appealed so much I went back to the same blogsite and downloaded the remaining examples of his music. The quality of his music has amazed me; there are no easy minimalist textures here. His music is challenging and has a visceral and visual excitement quite rare in new music.

So how does one describe this music. Well, firstly it's nothing like the music of one of his teachers - Peter Sculthorpe. I would describe it as polytonal, with colourful and arresting instrumental combinations, and fascinating tangled counterpoint. It may be stretching it a bit but the sound of Ginastera at his more extreme (e.g. the opera 'Bomarzo') or the wild textures from the first movement of Shostakovich's 4th Symphony might prepare you a little for this music.

The 1st Sinfonia is a great introduction to his music; it's dramatic, and eventful and remains compelling for its whole 35 minutes. Guitar-like harp ostinati drive the orchestra to chorale-like crescendos, the brass section, augmented by an army of percussion, erupts and argues with the woodwinds, the music seems to cartwheel at times in to delirious contrapuntal textures in complex time signatures.

It's a shame I cannot read Portuguese. If so I would be able to supply a lot more information. However, it's well worth checking out the following website too: for more downloads and information - some in English- on the composer.

It seems criminal that virtually none of Harry Crowl's music is available on CD in the UK. He's a vastly underrated and little known composer here. Let's hope that changes in the near future.


пока said...

Hi, thanks for your blog! Your selection is very interesting and diverse.

I'm the guy who posted Harry Crowl there on the Brazilian blog. I'm quite glad to know you enjoyed it. Brazilian classical music isn't very well-known and, thereby, recorded often, so it's great to know our efforts arrive people from the whole world. As you're interested in Harry Crowl, I may share with you more of his music (mainly chamber works, which I didn't post on the blog). Furthermore, if you wanna talk to him, I may present him, he's quite approachable.


Out of the lion's mouth... said...

Thankyou, noka. I'm sorry it took me 3 years to reply to your comment. I've posted a comment on your blog today regarding Harry Crowl and Heitor Villa-Lobos (Currently going through the Choros and Floresta do Amazonia).