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Fall and Resurrection World premiere performance
Patricia Rozario - Soprano, Michael Chance - counter-tenor, Martyn Hill - psaltis, Stephen Richardson - bass, BBC Singers, Adrian Peacock - voice of God / Christ / Devil,  John Scott - chorus master,  St. Paul's Choir  John Scott - director of music, City of London Sinfonia conducted by Richard Hickox
 Chandos CHAN 9800 - digital - full price [67.37]

Sir John Tavener now has such popularity in the contemporary music scene that immediately a major new work from him has its premiere, it is recorded and issued to a delighted public by a major recording company. What many of our contemporary composers would give to be in a position as this. This recording, displaying the logos of the BBC, Opus Arte, and Etcetera Record Company is also available on DVD and video as follows: DVD KTCD 102 Video - KTCV 102 (PAL) and KTCV 102N (NTSC). This review was from the CD only.

The first thing to say about this new disc is that the sounds of the new work are very impressive. This recording was made at the first performance in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, on 4th January 2000. Judging by the almost complete absence of audience noise, I suspect that with this recording, some patching must have been done by the Chandos engineers from rehearsal takes and the like. London was in the grip of a very noisy 'flu epidemic when this performance was recorded, and I don't believe that there was so little extraneous noise on the day.

Apart from a few very insignificant intonation problems here and there, the performance strikes me as being very good, displaying the necessary fervour and dedication to the subject. Sir John has tackled here a much larger scenario than most other oratorio subjects, because here he has dealt with his story from the beginning of time, through Adam and Eve, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ and beyond.

The work is in three main sections, Part 1 taking the listener from the beginning of time up to Adam and Eve. This first section starts from nothing. The orchestra rises out of complete silence in a huge climax over the space of just over 2 ½ minutes. This is a very complex crescendo full of indeterminant sounds, expanding to fill the vast acoustic of St. Pauls, which it does very effectively. We are then introduced to Adam and Eve, both of whom are excellent Stephen Richardson (Adam) and Patricia Rozario (Eve). Although he is excellent, Stephen Richardson, is not a basso profundo, which I think would have been better in this part, and his lower notes appear a little strained. Part 1 continues with chants and ram's horns from on high, together with simplistic very beautiful passages for solo voices. Part 1 ends at the loss of Paradise due to the actions of the serpent and its consequences.

Part 2 covers the progress from verses sung by the prophets and the psalmists interspersed with dance music played on the karval, an ancient type of flute. It takes us from the less than perfect state to that of the prediction of Christ's coming.

Part 3 deals with the Crucifixion and beyond, and is the first time we hear the St. Paul's organ at full volume in the work. The recording handles this magnificently, and the work subsides into peace, with the cathedral bells ending the work (faded out by the engineers). The acoustic of the cathedral adds to the drama of the work. It is good that Chandos (who are often berated by other critics for allowing too much reverberation) have risen to the task and preserved for us what obviously was a very moving experience, by allowing the building to contribute.

Full marks then the Richard Hickox and his considerable forces and to the engineers who collectively have produced a fascinating disc which should be enjoyed by all who try it - highly recommended.


John Phillips


John Phillips

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