JOHN TAVENER (1944-2013): The Death of Ivan Ilyich for Bass and Orchestra, Mahámátar for Sufi Singer, Boys’ Choir and Orchestra, Popule meus for Orchestra, Preces and Responses, and No longer mourn for me (both arr. 8 cellos Steven Isserlis [b.1958]).
Catalogue Number: 02W011
Description: Tavener's last completed work, the a cappella Preces and Responses, which translates perfectly to cello ensemble in Isserlis' transcription, sounding almost Elgarian in its nobilmente statements, with the soloist taking the rôle of the priest and joining the assembled faithful in the responses. The Death of Ivan Ilyich sets Tolstoy's story of the excruciating physical, emotional, and spiritual torment at the end of a man's life, in a remarkable musical setting that in its grinding, powerful, dissonant intensity recalls the Akhmatova Requiem, and in its moments of radiance, consolation and resignation, the reassuring, glowing assurance of the works of The Protecting Veil type. The cello shadows the anguished singer like the dying man’s subconscious thoughts. The hauntingly beautiful Mahámátar is a mysterious middle-eastern invocation in which the cello intones a chant melody over which the Sufi singer improvises, surrounded by a glowing aura of opulent string texture. Popule meus explores the theme of mankind’s rejection of God, who remains serene and surrounded by light in the cello line, while the increasingly frenetic and belligerent timpani and jagged string fragments strive mightily in opposition. Texts included. Steven Isserlis (cello), Matthew Rose (bass), Abi Sampa (Sufi singer), Trinity Boys Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra; Omer Meir Wellber.