Tavener - Akhmatova Requiem
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Label: NMC Recordings
Cat No: NMCD208
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 22nd September 2014
ArtistsPhyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano)
John Shirley-Quirk (bass-baritone)
Elise Ross (soprano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
John Tavener first came to public attention in 1968 with the premiere of his oratorio 'The Whale' at the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta; The Beatles subsequently recorded this piece on their Apple label.
Tavener's avant-garde style of the seventies contrasts with the contemplative beauty of his later works, for which he is best known, yet spirituality and mysticism are still present.
Akhmatova Requiem (1980) sets a sequence of poems written during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s by Anna Akhmatova, describing the terror of having her family and friends arrested and imprisoned, and the lines of relatives waiting hopelessly outside Leningrad jail. To her poems, Tavener added prayers from the Russian Orthodox funeral service which are sung on this recording by bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk.
Six Russian Folk Songs (1978) represent, in the composer's words, 'a musical sigh of relief' and a complete contrast to the pain and sorrow of the Requiem. They were written for the Nash Ensemble's 15th anniversary in 1979. Simple settings of folk lyrics, their melodic nature recalls Tchaikovsky's songs.
This recording was previously issued by Carlton Classics in its BBC Radio Classics series.
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