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Tavener: Tears Of The Angels

Scottish Ensemble

Tavener: Tears Of The Angels

BKD 085 (Linn Records)
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Compact Disc


CD Quality

FLAC 16bit 44.1kHz 247.3MB $13.00

CD Quality

ALAC 16bit 44.1kHz 254.2MB $13.00


MP3 320k 44.1kHz 134.5MB $11.00
Prices shown in US Dollars


Tracks: Listen and Download

Track Time Listen
...Depart In Peace...

...Depart In Peace...

Composer John Tavener
Conductor Clio Gould
Soloist Patricia Rozario - vocals, Clio Gould - violin, Matthew Rooke - drone
25:24 Play $10.25
My Gaze is Ever upon You

My Gaze is Ever upon You

Composer John Tavener
Conductor Clio Gould
Soloist Clio Gould - violin, vocals, Diane Clark - drone
19:33 Play $6.85
Tears Of The Angels

Tears Of The Angels

Composer John Tavener
Conductor Clio Gould
Soloist Clio Gould - violin
13:50 Play $5.10
Total Running Time 59 minutes Purchase all tracks 
Prices shown in US Dollars

Scottish Ensemble performs a stunningly beautiful recording of remarkable pieces by John Tavener. 

Originally released in 1998 Tavener: Tears of the Angels has been re-issued as part of Linn’s ECHO series which offers a second chance to enjoy the best of the label’s award-winning catalogue.

Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet
John Tavener

John Tavener

John Tavener, who passed away in 2013, was one of the best known and popular composers of the twentieth century. He was described as 'among the very best creative talents of his generation' by The Times.
profile & recordings >>
Scottish Ensemble

Scottish Ensemble

Versatile and vibrant string ensemble who are as much at home with contemporary music as the Baroque, who deliver consistently high quality performances.
profile & recordings >>

‘An exceedingly beautiful disc that I have no hesitation in making my record of the year.' Gramophone

‘The title track and a work of ethereal stillness, is played with breathtaking control by Clio Gould, whose part resides ecstatically at the most precipitous heights of the violin…the performance of this exotic and bewitchingly beautiful composition […Depart In Peace…] is mesmerising.' Hi-Fi Choice

‘Linn's fine recording of the 12 crack players of the Scottish Ensemble provides the best of both worlds, a successful hybrid that can project the raw energy of the Allegro molto, for instance, more effectively than the bigger forces.' BBC Music Magazine

‘A superb performance with outstanding playing.' Classic CD


Tavener wrote the extraordinarily moving ...Depart in Peace… following the death of his father. Written for soprano, violin, tampura and strings it features Eastern elements and a glittering setting of the Song of Simeon; Patricia Rozario and Clio Gould are outstanding soloists in this beautiful piece. Clio Gould’s perfectly pitched and emotive violin playing takes centre stage in My Gaze is Ever upon You and Tears of the Angels. John Tavener, who passed away in 2013, was described as one of ‘the very best creative talents of his generation’ by The Times; these compositions are among his finest.


Booklet notes

Saint Simeon, holding the infant God, the Divine in his arms, could now depart in peace...

... Depart In Peace…
Saint Simeon, aged as he was, could indeed 'depart in peace', for the limit of this present life is not death. He was holding in his arms the one who has dispelled death. …Depart in Peace… was written in loving memory of my father. Eternal Memory – Kenneth.

My Gaze is Ever upon You
is a series of sixteen gazes, moments and ecstatic breaths, written in Trinitarian guise – solo violin, with taped violin and string bass drone pre-recorded in a distant and ethereal manner. The music was written during two prolonged stays in my house in Greece. As far as possible, the gazes are spontaneous reactions to people, to landscapes, to animals, to creeping things – an attempt to create a theophany and an anthropophagy: to see God in everything, for everything that lives is holy.

Tears of the Angels
is almost a contradiction in terms. Tradition tells us that angels do not weep. However, I was moved to give the piece this title because the music is dedicated to the suffering people of the Balkans. Tears of the Angels is scored for strings and features solo violin playing in the extreme register. The overall impression is of unearthly stillness before the mysterious ways of God. © John Tavener, 1997

John Tavener was born in January 1944 in the Northern London suburb of Wembley Park. His grandfather, a keen amateur musician, ran a highly successful building and decorating business, whose clients were later to play important roles in Tavener’s musical career. His father played the organ at the Presbyterian Church in Hampstead and it was the minister there who was the first to commission a work from the budding young composer, a ‘Credo’ which was performed at the church on 12 November 1961. Although still a pupil at Highgate School, John was soon appointed organist at the Presbyterian Church of his own, St John’s in Kensington, a post he was to hold for the next fourteen years. In January 1962 he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music and began to study composition with Lennox Berkeley.

Although composing had already become his overriding passion, Tavener’s family was still expecting him to embark on a career as a concert pianist and to this end he was sent to play to Solomon, the legendary, but by then, paralysed pianist whose house had just been renovated by C. Tavener & Son. It was however, another of his grandfather’s clients who was to have the more lasting effect. She was Rhonda, Lady Birley, and it was at her home, Charleston Manor, that John was encouraged to flex his musical muscles and put on performances of his latest works. By the late 1960s the family firm had added The Beatles to its list of clients and was engaged in refurbishing their various houses and the offices of their Apple Corporation. The two Johns – Tavener and Lennon – met one evening in Kensington and, over dinner, played tapes of each other’s most recent music. So impressed was Lennon by what he heard that it was soon decided to record, on Apple Records, Tavener’s latest composition, The Whale, a work dedicated to Lady Birley but written for the London Sinfonietta’s inaugural concert.

The Whale certainly put Tavener and his music on the map and commissions started to come in from all sides. Most of these new works grew out of Tavener’s strong religious convictions which, at that time, were gradually, but inexorably, moving away from the teachings of the Western Church toward those of the East; he was finally received into the Orthodox Church in September 1977. As time went on, Tavener began more and more to incorporate into his own music the sacred tone systems used for the orthodox liturgy. The pieces he was then writing were predominantly vocal, but, in 1987, came The Protecting Veil for cello and string orchestra. Inspired by the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, the popularity this piece enjoyed did again for Tavener what The Whale had done for him some twenty years before; put him firmly in the public eye and made his music immensely popular.

He had been encouraged to write music for ‘the market place’, not just for the church, by Mother Thekla, Abbess of the Orthodox Monastery at Normanby in Yorkshire, who by then had become his spiritual adviser, friend and librettist. One of the many rich fruits of the collaboration between Mother Thekla and Tavener has been the opera Mary of Egypt which, after a very long gestation period, was first performed in June 1992. The part of Mary on that occasion was taken by Patricia Rozario and it has been with this splendid singer in mind that Tavener wrote several more of his works.

A sufferer from Marfan's syndrome, a hereditary heart condition which affects people who are exceptionally tall and long-limbed, Tavener (who is six-foot-four) had to undergo extensive heart surgery in the spring of 1991. Already constantly preoccupied with his own mortality, this operation had the effect of increasing his daily compunction to write music – while there was still time. Death, however, has often provided him with the impetus to compose. Usually this has been the death of friends or relations but in the case of Tears of the Angels, it was the death and suffering of the people of the Balkans that occupied his mind.

Completed during November 1995 at Naldretts, his home in Sussex, this work was commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble, which, with Clio Gould as soloist, gave the first performance on 26 June 1996. In the score the composer has requested that the piece should be played 'at the extreme breaking point of tenderness – in other words, totally beyond our compassion and beyond our comprehension, wrapped in a depth of inner silence of which we have no idea, state of being or emotion; a tender light piercing the agonizing darkness of the world. Also, a humility of which we have no idea because it is not rooted in a hypocritical or contrived deprecation of self, but in the blinding vision of God himself'. He also points out that 'since we are human and not angels, the music can only be imagined by us'. In this work the solo violin represents the chief amongst the angels while the other violins are often asked to play 'like tear drops'.

After many years of visiting Greece, a country with which he had fallen profoundly in love, Tavener eventually bought himself a house on the island of Evia and it was there, at Pigadaki on 5 June 1997, that he completed the work he was to call …Depart in Peace… .This is a setting in Greek of the Song of Simeon, otherwise known as the Nunc Dimittis, interspersed with Alliuatic antiphons. The word Alleluia is treated in three different ways. Firstly it emerges, syllable by syllable, from the string texture, then it is sung with tender longing almost as a hymn and finally ecstatically ‘like Middle-Eastern chanting’. As the piece progresses these antiphons lengthen and the Middle-Eastern one gets faster and faster. In between the Alleluias, the singer, with great humility and accompanied only by solo violin, tempura and cellos, gradually builds up the Song of Simeon – ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace’. Tavener wrote this work to the ‘eternal memory’ of his father who had recently died and it was first performed at the Hellenic Centre in London by the Scottish Ensemble with Patricia Rozario and Clio Gould on 25 June 1998.

My Gaze is Ever upon You was also composed at Pigadaki in 1997. It is dedicated to Clio Gould who, with the Scottish Ensemble, had commissioned it. It was written in loving memory of Matthew Sullivan, a close friend of the composer who, he says, 'would have loved the title because it could have referred to God, a tree or his wife'. This piece, for solo violin, with taped violin and string bass drone, pre-recorded in a resonant acoustic, is, in the words of the composer, 'a series of sixteen gazes, moments and ecstatic breaths, written in Trinitarian guise'. These gazes, says Tavener, 'are spontaneous reactions to people, to landscapes, to animals, to creeping things'. For several of them the composer has provided a short commentary:

No. 3 – ‘Undergoing, as it were, the way of negation, forming no ideas’

No. 4 – ‘Piercing light shines from his being’

Nos. 5, 6 & 9 – ‘ecstatic breath’

No. 6 – ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.. have mercy upon me, a sinner’

No. 7 – ‘Leave me to die...dying...ecstatic, propelled by a new power transcendent, grace incarnate’

No. 8 – ‘His whole body forms a dance of silent joy’

No. 10 – ‘He has torn himself to shreds – broken open his whole person’

No. 11 – ‘The moon, with its wondrous rays, has stolen my heart to you, all-holy one’

No. 12 – ‘Light shines from his being’

No. 13 – ‘Only you remain...invisibly escorted by the hosts of angels’

No. 14 – ‘Divine play’

No. 15 – ‘I do not wish or desire to live long – come, do your will in me’

No. 16 – ‘God has seen: God has been seen’

To mark the end of each gaze and the beginning of the next, the string bass, acting as drone, produces a molto crescendo and diminuendo on the low C which is sounding throughout. In the very last bar of the piece the composer asks the violinist to sing the words of its title, 'very purely and gently, whilst playing'. © Peter Avis, 1998

Recording information:

Recorded at Glasgow Concert Halls, Glasgow, UK, 4–6 March 1998
Produced by Andrew Keener
Recorded by Philip Hobbs
Post-production by Ben Turner & Julia Thomas
Original cover image by John Haxby
Design by gmtoucari com

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BBC Music Magazine
John Tavener, one of those lucky composers who can expect to encounter their work before the ink is scarcely dry.
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....strangely beautiful, in a contemplative, other-worldly way.
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La Scena Musicale
4 Stars
Fans of spiritual minimalism will delight in John Tavener's Tears of the Angels.
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Epulse Magazine
...exquisitely voiced harmonies...
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The Buffalo News
4 Stars
"Tears of the Angels" is an exquisite plaint for violin and strings
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...shouldn't be overlooked.

Tacoma Reporter
The exotic blend is pure aural aromatherapy.
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Denver Rocky Mountain News
...slow-moving pieces of heavenly serenity.
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brings to mind beatific visions of angels
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Klassienke Zaken mag

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Life and Work
achingly beautiful purity emerges in the music on this album.
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It's sounds you could swim in. Seek this one out.
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Northern Echo
For sheer beauty of sound and emotional depths the Scottish Ensembles disc is well nigh impossible to beat....

The Inverness Courier
Classical Record of the Year

Darlington and Stockton Times
Tavener's most recent and beautiful works...

Sound and Music

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Classic CD Magazine
5 Stars
.."at the extreme breaking point of tenderness"...

Classic CD
A suberb performance with outstanding playing
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An extremely moving and beautiful disc that should not be missed.
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Inverness Courier
...becomes increasingly animated and Eastern in style...
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Northern Echo
haunting, gentle and emotionally intense...
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Bradford Telegraph
All in all a beautiful disc I urge you to try.
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The Standard
a work that can be as frightening as it is beautiful...
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