Friday, May 18, 2012

CCC 031 - John Tavener

The Consonant Classical Challenge continues with John Tavener. Tavener's had a long and quite remarkable compositional career. His first two recordings were released on Apple Records, with active participation and support from the Beatles.

Tavener became fascinated with the music of the Russian Orthodox Church, and his music changed from aggressively avant garde to serene and spiritual. Like Arvo Part (with whom he's often compared), John Tavener writes music that seems suspended in time -- like a feather floating gently down from the sky.

Part of that aesthetic is related to the tradition of Eastern Orthodox chant, which doesn't have a strong rhythmic pulse to it. The Protecting Veil is one of Tavener's few strictly instrumental compositions -- and one of his most popular.

Since a major part of Tavener's inspiration comes from the Eastern Orthodox sacred tradition (which is exclusively for the human voice), most of his compositions are choral. And many of them are for unaccompanied choir. Athene is one such work, and demonstrates Tavener's mastery of choral composition -- and maintaining his unique creative voice.

Tavener has a talent for blending the traditional instruments of an orchestra together in unusual ways. Combine that with his equally innovative approach to choral writing, and some powerfully moving and deeply spiritual music is the result. This is the "Cosmic Lament VI," part of his Lament for Jerusalem.

John Tavener is performed frequently across the globe. The slow pace that his music unfolds invites the audience to contemplate the sounds -- and the sounds are beautiful. Programming Tavener on either a choral or an orchestral concert would be a distinct change of pace for most ensembles. And it might provide a welcome interlude for the audience.

Recommended Recordings 

 The Protecting Veil / Wake Up ... And Die

Song for Athene

 John Tavener: A Portrait

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