JOHN TAVENER (1944-2013): Akhmatova Requiem (Phyllis Bryn-Julson [soprano], John Shirley-Quirk [bass-baritone], BBC Symphony Orchestra; Gennady Rozhdestvensky. Live, Aug. 7, 1981), 6 Russian Folk Songs (Elise Ross [soprano], The Nash Ensemble. Live Sept. 2, 1979).
Catalogue Number: 11Q076
Format: CD reissue
Description: Akhmatova Requiem may come as something of a shock to anyone who associates Tavener with the kind of consoling, consonant, meditative works, of the Protecting Veil type, for which he is best known. The work sets poems from Akhmatova's cycle, "Requiem", a bitter indictment of the Stalinist Terror, expressed in intricately detailed descriptive language, full of images of grief, pain and anguish. Tavener sets these in intense recitative-like vocal lines with austere, restrained accompaniments, punctuated by terrifying outbursts of militaristic violence. Bell sounds and inflections of Russian Orthodox chant reflect the interspersed excerpts from the Orthodox Mass, lending the work a grave, ritualistic atmosphere to balance the tragic passion of Akhmatova's text. The Folksongs are Tavener's inventive and evocatively colorful settings of traditional melodies, written for relaxation after an intense period of work in the 1970s, at a time when the composer was intensely investigating Russian Orthodox music and traditions. Original 19?? Carlton Classics/BBC Radio Classics release.