Tavener - Towards Silence
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Label: Signum Classics
Cat No: SIGCD221
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 15th November 2010
Court Lane Quartet
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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