Music by John Tavener -
reviewed by RON BIERMAN
'Recommended for those who like Tavener or Anonymous 4.'
This is self recommending for those who collect the music of contemporary composer
John Tavener. The recording includes four of his compositions interspersed among eight
pieces from the eleventh through fourteenth centuries. (One of the texts is from the
fourth century.) Anonymous 4 is featured on all tracks. The Chilingirian Quartet, playing
original instruments, appears in three of the Tavener works only. Both groups live up to
the high expectations we have of them. The disk's unifying theme is movement from darkness
to light, both as a day progresses from dusk through sunrise and as religious faith moves
the believer from dark ignorance to blazing redemption.
Tavener often uses medieval techniques and religious themes. Since each of his pieces
is preceded in this program by one or two early music works
[listen -- track 2, 0:01-1:08], it is particularly easy to hear
how he maintains a similar mood and purpose with more modern sounding melodies and
harmonies [listen -- track 3, 6:58-8:01]. Reactions to the
composer may well depend on one's feelings about this approach. Is it superficial and
uninspired, or a creative, heartfelt way to build on a magnificent tradition. The truth
is probably somewhere in between. My own view has been moving closer to the more favorable
end of the spectrum as Tavener's expanding output makes it increasingly difficult to doubt
his sincerity or depth of feeling.
Copyright © 20 August 2003
Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA