ABOUT THE MUSIC
In Polyhymnia – a searing, many-layered “Lamentation for String Orchestra” (with soloists) – the melos or “melodic thread” often weaves between all parts, and is slow-moving throughout. Initially, it emerges like a cry from the deep. Tension is built, maintained, and released, over long periods. Leaving aside the (rather folk-like – or Celtic sounding) middle interlude, the whole work is effectively a series of extended “waves” – at times dissipating, before swelling and cascading forth again, towards a final powerful and sustained climax. Harmonically, the work makes great play of clashing semitones, and gradually builds up clusters of notes into evolving, everchanging, and ultimately resolving chord patterns. The string orchestra is employed multi-divisi throughout: there are four individual violin lines (besides an extra four solo parts), ditto in the violas, eight individual cello lines, and two bass lines. This tends to create a thick, rich and complex texture, yet there are also some exceptionally lucid passages – for although Polyhymnia is also the Muse of Eloquence, She is more often characterised as a serious, pensive and meditative holy woman (whose main role is to sing praises to the gods). According to some ancient sources, Polyhymnia (sometimes pronounced or abbreviated to “Polymnia”) is believed to have invented the lyre, and is also said to be an encourager of the dance.
RECORDING supported by an inaugural Musicians' Benevolent Fund Professional Development Award (MBF 90th anniversary, 2011) through the Willis and Grace Grant Charitable Trust (UK); ASCAP through the ASCAPlus Awards scheme (USA); and the University of Chichester through both Arts Research Fund and Research Incentive Fund Awards (UK).
* Collard Fellowship of The Worshipful Company of Musicians 2011 (UK)
* PRS for Music Foundation / Bliss Trust Composer Bursary 2012 (UK)
* "Album des Mes en RNA (Febrero 2012)" (Album of the Month in Reviews New Age, February 2012); Nomination for 'Mejor Álbum RNA de Año' (Best Album of the Year) (Spain)
Fanfare (USA), Vol.36: No.1 (Sept-Oct 2012), pp.58-72 - Feature article (includes extensive interview with Martin Anderson, and reviews by Anderson, Canfield and Nockin), and Fanfare (USA), Vol.36: No.2 (Nov-Dec 2012)
Selected International Music Reviews
Byelick, Ira, ‘LITTLE: Polyhymnia …’ [CD Review], in “American Record Guide” (May/June 2012), pp.244-5 (USA) – “full of rich string orchestra harmonies and based on some beautiful melodic ideas. The texture is rich, and the effect is quite moving …”
Clavijo, Alejandro, ‘Jonathan Little: Polyhymnia’ [CD Review], in “Reviews New Age” (Spain) (February, 2012) [5/5 STARS: ALBUM OF THE MONTH; NOMINATED FOR BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR] – “Gorgeous, exciting, chilling and surprising … an elegant gift to the ears. There are no words to describe this work … superlative … spine-tingling … the complexity, the beauty, the elegance, the intensity … so otherworldly … indescribable”
Estren, Dr. Mark, ‘Modern but Accessible’ [CD Review], in “Infodad” (1st March, 2012) (USA) – “as warm and fervent as religious poetry … a sonic tour de force. Little is an expert orchestrator … clearly comfortable writing in multiple forms for many different instrumental and vocal combinations.”
Focosi, Filippo, ‘Jonathan Little “Polyhymnia” ’ [CD Review], in “Kathodik” (16th April, 2012) (Italy) – “bursting through the panorama he paints with sudden flashes of light or menacing thunderbolts, and so projects the past into the future.”
Nockin, Maria, ‘Little: Polyhymnia …’ [CD Review] in “Fanfare” (USA), Vol.36: No.1 (Sept-Oct 2012). – “melodic figures coalesce into an enormous tapestry of musical color … eloquent and expansive … opulent sonorities. Little composes with a great array of technical skills and his works are both harmonically and contrapuntally pleasing.”
Wheatley, John, ‘Jonathan Little: Polyhymnia’ [CD Review], in “Tempo” (UK), Vol.67: No.259 (Jan. 2012) – “immensely poetic, almost otherworldly”.