Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Sun, 16 Jun 2024 06:07:10 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb John Tavener - Darkness into Light (2002) John Tavener - Darkness into Light (2002)

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1. Vespers hymn: O lux beata trinitas
2. Jube domine / Lection: In principio
3. John Tavener: Come and do Your will in me (voices & strings)
4. Compline Hymn: Christe qui lux es
5. Lectio ysaye prophete / Lection: Surge illuminare
6. John Tavener: As one who has slept (voices & strings)
7. Nocturn hymn: Medie noctis tempus est
8. Leccio libri apokalipsis / Lection: Vidi civitatem
9. John Tavener: The Lord's Prayer
10. Alleluia: Quinque prudentes virgines
11. John Tavener: The Bridgeroom (voices & strings)
12. Hymn for the New Light: Inventor rutili

Anonymous 4:
Marsha Genensky
Susan Hellauer
Jacqueline Horner
Johanna Maria Rose

Chilingirian Quartet:
Levon Chilingirian, violin
Charles Sewart, violin
Asdis Valdimarsdottir, viola
Philip De Groote, cello

Recorded February 10-15, 2002


John Tavener fans have a world-premiere to savor and followers of Anonymous 4 get to hear the acclaimed quartet do more of what it does best. What’s not to like? On the surface, we’re bathed in gorgeous sound–both in terms of the music itself and the clear, resonant, nicely balanced recording. The medieval plainchant and polyphony, selected from the Divine Office and mass, includes the beautiful hymns O lux beata trinitas, Christe qui lux es, and Medie noctis tempus est (sung in Anonymous 4’s trademark perfect unison), as well as three “medieval lections” whose two-part scoring features lines that bounce freely among open fourths and fifths, unisons, and octaves. And if you know any of Anonymous 4’s previous work, you’re not surprised here at the singers’ amazing technical precision, uniformity of phrasing, and absolute one-ness of sound in these very challenging pieces.

Most of the rest of the program consists of four works by John Tavener, three of which are scored for voices and strings, the other (The Lord’s Prayer) for voices alone. The Bridegroom, written in 1999 for Anonymous 4 and the Chilingirian Quartet, receives its world-premiere recording here, and suffice to say, in all of its 17 and one half minutes we hear nothing we haven’t heard before in numerous other Tavener works. In fact, the pieces on display here clearly reveal the rather formulaic nature of much of his writing: predominance of close-scored dissonances; slow-moving, mostly stepwise chordal structure that involves much forward/backward motion and repetition, almost invariably centered in a minor “key”; very short phrases marked by regular, distinct pauses; drones supporting bursts of high-lying melodies, often harmonized in thirds and sixths. There’s little of what we normally think of as rhythm, and once Tavener latches onto a melodic or harmonic idea he likes, he never lets go of it. In fact, he makes entire pieces out of almost nothing, just by repeating the simplest fragment–ad nauseam. When he’s through with an idea, he just dumps it and begins another; when he runs out of words–as in The Lord’s Prayer–he just stops.

Granted, the music is almost invariably pretty, sometimes even truly if momentarily exciting. The earliest Tavener work here, As one who has slept, is very appealing in its simplicity–and along with the equally ingratiating The Lord’s Prayer could serve as a summation of his recent style, whose scale of superficiality is surpassed only by the composer’s astonishing pretentiousness (which we should be used to by now), exemplified here in his directions to performers: “The music must be sung with enormous intensity and sonority, casting all into the fire of God”; “The music [of The Bridegroom] should be almost unbearable in its ecstatic light . . . the female voices [represent] the people in the world, full of that longing which is a kind of Divine eros.”

What exactly the performers are supposed to do with this information is anyone’s guess, but at least the Chilingirians and Anonymous foursome make it all sound very sonorous and genuinely, sincerely felt (if not quite “unbearable” or fully “cast into the fire of God”). Considering the great temporal distance between the medieval works and those of Tavener, the program actually coheres and flows very well–but for me, the juxtaposition only reinforces my conviction that those anonymous church composers of long-past centuries are far more compelling in (and perhaps largely because of) their anonymity than a certain all-too-self-aware 21st-century composer whose presumptions of greatness never will garner him a place in their exalted company. ---David Vernier,

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]]> (bluesever) Tavener John Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:51:28 +0000
John Tavener - Song for Athene • Svyati & other Choral Works (2001) John Tavener - Song for Athene • Svyati & other Choral Works (2001)

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1 	God Is With Us: Christmas Proclaimation 	5:28 	
2 	Song For Athene 	5:42 	
3 	The Lamb 	3:51 	
4 	The Tiger 	5:22 	
5 	Magnificat And Nunc Dimittis 	7:35 	
6 	Magnificat And Nunc Dimittis 	2:58 	
7 	Funeral Ikos 	7:15 	
8 	Two Hymns To The Mother Of God 	2:36 	
9 	Two Hymns To The Mother Of God 	3:50 	
10 	Love Bade Me Welcome 	4:56 	
11 	As One Who Has Slept 	4:20 	
12 	The Lord's Prayer 	3:34 	
13 	Svyati "O Holy One"	13:20

Tim Hugh - cello (13)
Robert Houssart - organ
Choir Of St. John's College, Cambridge
Christopher Robinson – chorus master

Sir John Kenneth Tavener died 12.XI.2013.

Okay, I have to come clean right up front: John Tavener’s best piece–in fact his only really great piece–is his 1985 setting of William Blake’s The Lamb. This is one of those outstanding creations that very often emerge from composers of limited range and resources who almost accidentally one day just get everything right. It’s an honest, sincere, and very tender evocation of the text; it’s chorally sound and above all, it works. Almost ever since the success of this piece, brought to the world’s attention in Christmas Eve performances by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Tavener and his music have turned more and more inward toward mystical/religious themes that with all due respect often have a greater sheen of pretentiousness than sincerity. Far be it from me to doubt another person’s faith, but the way Tavener’s music and his persona are marketed, with a decided emphasis on how deep and spiritual it all is supposed to be (shouldn’t this come across in the music without our having to be told?), I’m put off before I even hear the first note of the next new masterpiece.

The most famous work on the disc, Song for Athene, is a well-wrought, sturdy, and effective piece that, like The Lamb, stays within its modest limits and thus leaves us feeling satisfied rather than put on. These performances are by one of England’s finest choirs, one that has a long history of authoritative interpretations of English church music, and listeners will find little to criticize in the singing. The sound is not ideal–its slightly harsh edge and lack of detail is at least partly a function of the density of some of the textures, as well as volume in certain passages, and the generous resonance of the St. John’s College Chapel. Tavener fans of course will be delighted to have all of these works, which include the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, The Lord’s Prayer, the Funeral Ikos, and two Hymns to the Mother of God, on one disc.

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]]> (bluesever) Tavener John Thu, 05 Dec 2013 16:59:30 +0000
John Tavener - The Whale & Celtic Requiem (2010) John Tavener - The Whale & Celtic Requiem (2010)

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The Whale
01. Documentary
02. Melodrama And Pantomime
03. Invocation
04. The Storm
05. The Swallowing
06. The Prayer
07. In The Belly
08. The Vomiting

Celtic Requiem
09. a) Requiem Aeternam
10. b) Dies Irae
11. c) Requiescat In Pace
12. Nomine Jesu
13. Coplas

Anna Reynolds, mezzo-soprano
Raimund Herincx, baritone
Alvar Lidell, speaker
June Barton, soprano
John Tavener, organ/hammond organ
The London Sinfonietta
The London Sinfonietta Chorus
David Atherton/John Tavener, conductor


John Tavener, who here makes his gramophone debut, was born in 1944 and composed The Whale when he was 22. It was received with wild enthusiasm at its premiere (by the performers heard here), has won prizes abroad, and been much performed. It was an obvious selection when Apple Records decided to include straight music in their catalogue (they have since recorded Tavener's In alium and Celtic Requiem).

Thirty-five minutes may seem poor measure for two 12-inch sides, but The Whale contains plenty of loud music which needs careful stereo separation and balance; the centre grooves of each side are well un-used here, and the engineering of the recording, by the BBC Transcription Unit with Argo's Michael Bremner producing, is brilliantly clear in perspective and detail. I wondered for example why the solo singers sometimes sounded muffled, then on repetition realized that they have been sent, on these occasions, to the far end of the church so that their voices attract a halo of roof resonance distinct from the closer sound of choir and orchestra, The Whale is mainly a setting of the Jonah story in Vulgate Latin. In these strictly narrative passages the music suggests the Stravinsky of Threni—a good model, imaginatively adopted. But the Cantata is much more than just this, for the narrative awoke Tavener's fantasy, inspiring highly dramatic sections, and some that build up static noise-clusters slowly and with terrify ing tension. An outstanding example is the section describing Jonah's sojourn inside the whale, a strictly controlled but apparently very free palimpsest of sound-patterns, characteristic of the music's whole structure.

I could draw attention to the compelling deployment of rhythmic drum-patterns; the tingling effects for organ, piano and percussion; the polyphonic chanting ("And Jonah arose"), the solo baritone's shouts into the piano strings—an amazing effect— and several other terraced textures for solo voices against the rest. If you get the score (published by Chester) three or so bits of choral noise will be found omitted from the recorded performance (presumably at the composer's request).

But it's simplest to recommend the music as exceptionally exciting, durably satisfying (I enjoy it more each time), impressively composed; and the recording does the music justice. Anyone under 30 will have to possess the record; and old people like me should find their ears and receptive faculties valuably stretched. Plenty of information, and some nice pictures on the sleeve.—Gramophone,


It seems that we have Ringo Starr to thank for the Apple record of John Tavener's The Whale which has justly been followed up by another major Tavener piece on disc. The Celtic Requiem is so-called partly because it was composed in Ireland, partly because Irish poems (sung in English) are among the texts used. For this is not a straight setting of the Latin Mass for the Dead. Tavener is viewing the phenomenon of death from two angles, adult and childish. While the grown-ups at the back of the stage sing Requiem, Dies irae, Requiescant, and poems by Blathmac and Henry Vaughan, at the front of the stage, surrounded by orchestra, a party of children perform a number of singing games about death—an inexhaustible fascination for children, not necessarily fearful at all: a dead animal, if it isn't bleeding, is no more strange than the limp doll one's sisters play with.

The unconventional dichotomy in A Celtic Requiem lies in the alotting of the children's contribution to the foreground while the heartfelt keening and breastbeating of the adults is relegated to the background. "Poor Jenny Jones is dead" and "Mary had a little lamb" are given more prominence, visually and audibly, than what adults would regard as the appropriate, profound music of mourning. This is because the emphasis in this Requiem is laid on the unimportance of the act of death, the happiness of those who have left life on earth. Already at the beginning the solo soprano is carolling dream-like fioritura, soaring up to top E flat like an angel. Later she sings, significantly, Vaughan's "They are all gone into the world of light", and the children's funeral rites meet those of the adults on common ground in the climactic singing at very slow tempo of "Lead, kindly light" to J. B. Dykes's melody with Tavener's revised harmonies. This gives logic to the children's "There is a happy land"—sung with its parody words—and explains also the mixture of emotions juxtaposed before.

Tavener's Celtic Requiem is a work to watch as well as hear: the children's games are acted out, even to pop-guns for the shooting of Mary's Lamb (who was, of course, Jesus, though children may not remember this), and humming-tops towards the end. The tops are tuned to the chord of E flat major, the chord on which the whole work is based. Tavener intended his Celtic Requiem to be a gigantic uninterrupted decoration of this favourite hymn tune chord. Now and then its presence is reasserted but the music never seems monotonous, perhaps all the more cosmic. When it is over you would be surprised to calculate that it lasts only half an hour, it has expressed so much so fluently and without being too dense.

The performance conveys a miraculous ease—all credit to David Atherton and his massed forces, and to the recording technicians who bring the visual spectacle so vividly before our inward eyes. The first performance knocked me out. The record has completely reproduced that effect. To stop me enthusing to the incredible full, do just listen to this Requiem, especially if you have children or remember your own childhood. AR will have to bring out a new edition of his Requiem book to include this unprecedented setting.

The two vocal pieces on the other side are pleasing, individual and much less heavy. Nomine Jesu involves polyglot speeches, Coplas a gradual merge of Tavener's music into the Crucifixus of Bach's B minor Mass.—Gramophone,

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]]> (bluesever) Tavener John Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:21:38 +0000
John Tavener - Towards Silence (2010) John Tavener - Towards Silence (2010)

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Towards Silence - For Four String Quartets And A Large Tibetan Singing Bowl (33:45)
1 	Vaishvānara 	0:00
2 	Taijasa 	4:59
3 	Prājnā 	11:10
4 	Turīya 	19:20

Ensemble – Cavaleri Quartet, Fifth Quadrant, Finzi Quartet, Medici Quartet
Tibetan Singing Bowl – Louisa Golden


Violinist Paul Robertson, a founder of the Medici Quartet, asked John Tavener to compose a work on near-death experience for the Music Mind Spirit Trust and the Rubin Museum in 2007. The resulting work, Towards Silence, scored for four string quartets and large Tibetan temple bowl, was performed later that year in Winchester Cathedral. This recording features the original performers Medici Quartet, Finzi Quartet, Cavaleri Quartet, and Fifth Quadrant. Tavener described Towards Silence as "a meditation on the different states of dying." It's a piece whose title pretty well describes its content. In four continuous movements, it begins with a monumental cacophony and ends in silence. Along the way, the tone is one of mystery; there is ebb and flow of volume and activity, with the players sometimes called on to vocalize, but the overall direction of the piece moves from more to less. Just before the ending, Tavener thins out the textures to create a moment of radiant, transparent harmonies reminiscent of Pärt's Fratres, which dissolves into an evanescent haze that gradually fades into nothingness. Towards Silence makes for a very short CD, lasting only 34 minutes, but like John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls, which is even shorter, it is just about impossible to imagine any other piece being paired with it. It's not an easy work, but it's one that should appeal to adventurous new music lovers, especially fans of musical mysticism and of Tavener's late style. The program notes very strongly suggest that the piece is best experienced in quadraphonic sound, with the listener directly in the center of the four speakers. ---Stephen Eddins, AllMusic Review

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]]> (bluesever) Tavener John Sat, 27 Apr 2019 13:50:16 +0000
John Tavener – Innocence (Martin Neary) John Tavener – Innocence (Martin Neary)

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1 The Lamb	3:53 	
2 Innocence 	24:23 	
3 The Tyger	6:05 	
4 Annunciation 	5:56 	
  	Two Hymns To The Mother Of God
5 Hymn To The Mother Of God 	2:42 	
6 Hymn For The Dormition Of The Mother Of God 	4:56 
  	Little Requiem For Father Malachy Lynch (10:54)
7a Requiem 		
7b Dies Irae 		
7c Lacrymosa - Dies Irae 		
7d Libera Me 		
7e Requiem 		

8 Song For Athene 	7:11 	

Patricia Rozario – soprano
Leigh Nixon – tenor
Graham Titus – bass
Alice Neary  -cello
Martin Baker – organ
Charles Fullbrook – bells
Westminster Abbey Choir
English Chamber Orchestra
Martin Neary – conductor


Innocence, the longest work here, is the least successful. The bulk of the piece is a catalog of cruelties inflicted by humankind on innocents--mostly children--set to harsh but generally monotonous music. But Patricia Rozario is spectacular in a three-octave solo part, and the ending, with an ethereal chorus and bells depicting the salvation awaiting suffering innocents, is magical. The shorter pieces are deservedly among Tavener's most famous. The gentle, beguiling The Lamb and the powerful Tyger, settings of poems by William Blake, make an ideal pair. (Where The Tyger's text alludes to The Lamb, Tavener quotes The Lamb's music to wonderful effect.) The two hymns to the Mother of God are models of reverent beauty; Song for Athene, made world-famous at Princess Diana's funeral, is spellbinding. --Matthew Westphal, Editorial Reviews

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]]> (bluesever) Tavener John Sat, 22 Dec 2012 17:22:27 +0000