Notes and Editorial Reviews
Chanticleer's blissful singing is all-consuming; might this be Tavener's greatest work yet?
At a first listening, this work would seem to defy analysis. Is it a masterpiece? Or might it be a self-indulgent extravaganza? It has been labelled a 'liturgical drama'. NVe are led through a series of powerful scenes depicting the death and resurrection of Christ. The few quiet notes of the opening theme, which reappear, transformed, at the close are a pointer to what follows, much of which is of great beauty, tenderness and drama. The listener will notice at once, with some amazement, the almost constant incongruous use of an English text, sung by Chanticleer with voices carefully groomed by a Greek psalmista to produce the ornaments
and inicrotones of a non-Western tradition, normally reserved for Greek or Church Slavonic. Further unusual borrowings include the moving threefold Greek threnody with its lamenting descending scalic passages for solo voices, the bass at one point reaching a softly fading, incredibly low C sharp. In direct contrast, the chorus sings a slow , rhythmic hymn of praise. The procession into 0-Hades is dramatic and tragic. Christ's trampling down by death is portrayed by the crashing percussion - the grotesquely huge Tibetan temple bowl and the oversized tam-tam very much to Have the alarming juxtapositions in Sir John Tavener's new work produced a masterpiece? the fore - with heavenly and earthly choirs uniting to proclaim 'Risen! Risen! Risen!'.
Drama, tragedy, final victory - but don't be misled: this is poles apart from the ethos of the holy Orthodox liturgy. With all its Eastern trappings, it remains one man's personal insight and interpretation. Poles apart, too, from the ancient Western liturgy, with the Veneration of the Cross, the Reproaches, the quiet waiting in hope of Holy Saturday, then the incredibly restrained minor third of `Resurrexi' CI am risen'), Christ's words to his Father at the moment of his resurrection - and then the cascades of joyful notes that follow in the Easter Alleluia, Pascha nostrum.
A masterpiece, or a very personal extravaganza? It is for you, the listener, to decide.
Mary Berry, Gramophone [2/2002]
Works on This Recording
Lamentations and Praises by John Tavener
Linda Quan (Violin),
Jesse Antin (Countertenor),
Clayton Hoener (Violin),
Myron Lutzke (Cello),
Matthew Alber (Countertenor),
Michael Willens (Double Bass),
Allen Biggs (Percussion),
David Miller (Viola),
Christopher Fritzsche (Countertenor),
John Grimes (Timpani),
Robert Couture (Trombone),
Ian Howell (Countertenor),
Jay White (Countertenor),
Philip Wilder (Countertenor),
Kevin Baum (Tenor),
Matthew Oltman (Tenor),
Michael Lichtenauer (Tenor),
David Alan Marshall (Baritone),
Eric Alatorre (Baritone),
Thomas Bold (Bass),
Kathleen O'Donnell (Flute)
Handel and Haydn Society members
Period: 20th Century
Written: 2000; England
Date of Recording: 09/2001
Venue: Skywalker Ranch, Nicasio, California
Length: 69 Minutes 26 Secs.
Notes: This work received the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
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