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MALCOLM MILLER was at the world première
of Sir John Tavener's recent song cycle


Raising 'Eros' from the human to the divine is the philosophy underlying Sir John Tavener's choice of Medieval and Renaissance Serbian spiritual poetry for a recent song cycle, Epistle of Love, which received an uplifting, evocative world première on 22 March. It was the centrepiece of a remarkable recital of songs inspired by Serbian poetry given by the soprano Patricia Rozario partnered superbly by Julius Drake at a capacity-filled St John's Smith Square. The concert, given in the presence of the composer and the Ambassador of the FR of Yugoslavia, marked the 10th anniversary of a charity named after Laza Kostic, the 19th century Serbian poet and writer, which commissioned Tavener's cycle. In the words of the President of the FR of Yugoslavia, and the welcome by His Grace Bishop Dositej of the Orthodox Church, the event was intended as a renewal of cultural ties and friendship between nations. Certainly the expressive performances of Brahms and Tchaikovsky's settings of Serbian folk poetry in translation were potent cultural ambassadors, that transformed what might have been interpreted solely as a PR job to improve Serbia's image in the UK, into a musical experience that transcended naive nationalism. The concert also highlighted the historical significance of the pan-European influences of Serbian folk poetry on various 19th century composers, also including Loewe and Dvorák, and of the earlier sources used by Tavener.

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Copyright © 25 March 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK





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