Tavener - Towards Silence | Signum SIGCD221

Tavener - Towards Silence

£5.46

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Label: Signum

Cat No: SIGCD221

Format: SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 15th November 2010

Contents

Artists

Medici Quartet
Court Lane Quartet
Finzi Quartet
Cavaleri Quartet

Works

Tavener, John

Towards Silence

Artists

Medici Quartet
Court Lane Quartet
Finzi Quartet
Cavaleri Quartet

About

As composer of the oratorio The Whale (recorded by the Beatles on the Apple label), the choral Song for Athene (performed at the funeral of Princess Diana), and masterpieces like The Protecting Veil (a cello concerto in all but name), Sir John Tavener stands in the top tier of serious contemporary composers and has pop cachet besides.

This world premičre recording of Towards Silence: A Meditation on the Four States of Atma, written for four string quartets and a large Tibetan bowl and lasting roughly 35 minutes, explores the nature of consciousness and the process of dying. As an invocation, eight speaking voices read passages from the Vedanta, beginning with the command, Awake!, closing with the injunction, Look towards, reach towards, go towards Silence, followed by a brief mantra on the blessing Shanti.

Tavener wrote the work for the Medici Quartet and persuaded leader Paul Robertson to perform it. However, shortly after the manuscript was completed, both men became critically ill and close to death themselves. By August 2008 Robertson had recovered sufficiently to resuscitate the project, which had now taken on a profound significance for himself and for Tavener. The members of the Medici Quartet immediately agreed to reform and identified young professional string quartets with whom to perform and to act as musical mentors. They selected three outstanding British ensembles for the UK performances – the Court Lane, Finzi and Cavaleri Quartets – and rehearsals began.

The music is based on mystical Hindu concepts. “I was inspired by reading [French philosopher] Rene Gueron’s book Man and his becoming according to the Vedanta”, says Tavener. “He describes the four states: the waking state, the dream state, the condition of deep sleep, and that which is beyond. I decided very rashly early on to base the music on these four states – I couldn’t help myself doing so – and try to represent them. These are metaphysical inner states but they also can be described as stages of dying.

Tavener’s vision was for all four quartets to be positioned high up in a cathedral dome, invisible to the audience, and arranged in the shape of a cross, bringing the Christian, Buddist and Hindu religions together. This sense of space has been captured in the recording, which is an SACD hybrid that can also be enjoyed on a surround sound setup.

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