John Tavener needs no introduction as he currently enjoys far greater celebrity than most British composers of his generation. This disc brings together a number of first recordings. The World is a setting of verses by Kathleen Raine, the poet and distinguished scholar of Blake and Yeats. Composed in 1997, the work was first performed by Patricia Rozario and the Vanbrugh Quartet in 1999, as part of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. The same artists have therefore been brought together for this recording. According to the composer's performance note The World 'should be performed at maximum intensity throughout. White hot, white cold—intensely loud, intensely soft—almost unbearable—that which is nowhere and everywhere—not human but divine—theanthropic'. The work was dedicated to Kathleen Raine on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
Another birthday is celebrated in the occasional piece Many Years. A charming gift to a personal friend, it was composed for the 50th birthday of the Prince of Wales in 1998. The greeting 'Many years!' is commonly used in Orthodox countries, either on special occasions or as an everyday expression.
Diódia (1995) is Tavener's Third String Quartet, his first two being The Hidden Treasure (1989) and The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1991). Just as each of these works grew out of a major choral piece, so Diódia is similarly related to The Toll Houses ('Diódia' means literally 'Toll Houses'). This large-scale work (its premiere scheduled for Carnegie Hall in 2001) was inspired by a book of the same name by a Californian monk, Father Seraphim Rose.
Originally composed for soprano and cello (specifically Patricia Rozario and Steven Isserlis, two of Tavener's favourite musicians) the Akhmatova Songs were arranged for soprano and string quartet in response to a new commission by The Nash Ensemble.
'A sensational performance' (Music Week)
'If you doubt that Tavener is a composer of substance, this disc should change your mind' (Opera News)
'A disc that I can recommend without reservation' (Fanfare)
‘A first class release, which Tavener enthusiasts should not be without’ (www. musicweb)