JOHN TAVENER (1944-2013): Svyati, Look in thy Glass*, Threnos, Maha Maya*, ROXANNA PANUFNIK (b.1968): Heav’nly Harmony*, 99 Words to my Darling Children*, The Tablet of your Heart*, MATTHEW BARLEY (b.1952): Improvisation on Tavener Themes for Solo Cello*. * - First Recordings.
Catalogue Number: 01T053
Description: This disc serves both as a touching memorial to Tavener, centred around Roxanna Panufnik's deeply moving setting of his sort-of epitaph, the 99 words to his children written as a response to the question "If you only had breath left for 99 last words, what would they be?"; and a dual composer portrait of Tavener via a sample of his shorter works and of Panufnik, represented by three beautiful, recent choral works. Tavener's Maha Maya, a portrait of the eternal feminine in Hindu, Buddhist and Christian tradition, is in three sections of gorgeous, glowing harmony, tender and feminine, separated by monumental pillars of organ chords depicting the cosmic majesty of the Queen of Heaven. This 2003 work (surprisingly, receiving its world premiere recording here) and 2007's Shakespeare sonnet 'Look in thy Glass' owe more to the harmonic language of the English choral tradition and the consonant tonality of Tavener's later years than the earlier Svyati and the cello solo Threnos. Panufnik's upbeat Heav'nly Harmony (text from Dryden's “Ode to St Cecilia”) and somber The Tablet of your Heart, a gently and fondly admonitory memorial epitaph from the Book of Proverbs, are in a sumptuously chromatic tonal idiom, with rich organ accompaniment. The lovely 99 Words to my Darling Children sets the words of the composer's mentor, friend and 'musical hero' as a kind of lullaby, similarly in Panufnik's familiar approachable idiom, gentler than her father's but influenced by him and as capable of profound emotional resonance. The accompanying cello part pays subtle tribute to Tavener's The Protecting Veil as it weaves its commentary throughout the piece. Matthew Barley (cello), James Sherlock (organ), Simon Russell Beale (narrator), Voce Chamber Choir; Suze Digby.