JOHN TAVENER (b.1944): The Myrrh-Bearer for Viola, Chorus and Percussion, GIYA KANCHELI (b.1935): Styx for Viola, Mixed Choir and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 10J093
Label: Onyx Classics
Description: Kancheli's evocation of the river that separates the land of the living from the dead is as somber and dark-hued as one might wish, the music almost unbearably suspended between the two worlds as the chorus intones Kancheli's text. Most of the music is characteristically slow and meditative, tonal of course, austere and pure but interrupted by violent outbursts of massive orchestral sonority, and a brief dance-like episode like a vivid memory. Throughout, the viola floats suspended over the proceedings like a guiding spirit. Tavener's work sets the Troparion by the 9th-century Byzantine mystical poetess Cassiane. Tavener's slow-moving blocks of sound are tied together by the viola part, here in a narrative role, exploiting its entire range of register. With his use of middle-eastern modality and chant-like choral material,Tavener conjures a palpable sense of solemn, archaic ritual. It should be mentioned that the remarkable acoustics of the Dome Cathedral in Riga are an entirely appropriate participant in both pieces, the extraordinary reverberation heightening the music's sense of timelessness. Georgian-English and English texts. Maxim Rysanov (viola), Kamer... Choir, Men of the State Choir "Latvija", Rihards Zalupe (percussion), Liepaja Symphony Orchestra; Maris Sirmais.