John TAVENER (b.1944) Beyond the Veil Song for Athene (1993);
'Spit in My Face' from 'Three Holy Sonnets of
John Donne' (1960); Annunciation (1992); The Protecting Veil (1987) - First Movement; Akathist of Thanksgiving (1986-87);
'The Bless duet' from 'Mary of Egypt' (1991);
'As One Who Has Slept' (1996); Agraphon (1994).
Abbey Choir; Stephen Varcoe (tenor); Renato Ripo (cello);
La Camerata/Alexander Myrat; Choir of Greek
Orthodox Cathedral, London; Patricia Rozario (soprano).
Produced and Directed by Bryan Izzard
Edited and Presented by Melvyn Bragg
Photography: Clive Barda, Performing Arts Library
Filmed in England and Greece, 1998, 2006 LWT/NVC
ARTS 3984-23931-2 [80:00]
This DVD is based on LWT's television production
about the composer's life and works. He is sympathetically, but
not sycophantically, interviewed by Melvin Bragg. Scenes
are shown of his childhood home in Buckinghamshire, his studio,
monasteries he has found inspiring to visit, rehearsals of
his works and performances including that of 'Song for
Athene' composed for the funeral of Diana, Princess of
Wales. Some exploration is made of his involvement in the
London scene of the 1960s, as well as his later conversion
to the Orthodox strand of Christianity. However, this is
not brought out equally in the selection of musical works
Performances have been included of an otherwise representative
selection of his works to the date of production, including
the piece for Diana's funeral which has brought him most
into the public eye (which opens the disc), and a developing
sequence of works inspired by his religious faith. Perhaps
'The Whale' - a seminal 1960s piece for which the
London Sinfonietta was formed - is conspicuous by its absence.
The documentary-style production is clear, helpful,
well made and informative. Its main shortcoming is that there
is now significant more recent works and footage which it
does not include, such as the recent commission, 'The
Beautiful Names' premiered at Westminster Abbey but drawing
on Islamic material. There’s also an epic work for the Temple
Church of which a concert suite has been performed at the
Proms and toured internationally.
Inevitably, hearing predominantly short extracts from
longer works can be frustrating for the serious music enthusiast.
These can only serve as a taster or sampler for full-length
performances or recordings. However, it remains an informative
introduction to the composer's life and work and is a tribute
to what can be achieved in careful and thoughtful television
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