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Scottish Ensemble - Tavener: Tears of the Angels - The Buffalo News


14 May 1999
The Buffalo News
Herman trotter
4 Stars

Tavener, Tears of the Angels, Depart in Peace, My Gaze Is Ever Upon You; BT Scottish Ensemble, Clio Gould violinist and conductor (Linn CKD 085). 

Contemporary English composer John Tavener (born 1944) may be a religious mystic living on a plane quite apart from most of us. But he and his marketing team are certainly aware that timing is everything. "Tears of the Angels" is an exquisite plaint for violin and strings, written in 1995 and "Dedicated to the suffering people of the Balkans", now issued at the time of greatest international compassion for their plight. Much of the so;o violin work is in pianissimo upper-register trills, while the ensemble provides a heart-wrenching, quasi-minimalist, meditative, 13-minute continuum which Tavener asks to be played "at the extreme breaking point of tenderness". Equally beautiful but somewhat less concise are "Depart in Peace" for soprano, violin, tampura and strings, a memorial to the composer's father, and "My Gaze Is Ever Upon you" for violin plus taped second violin and bass drone. Both works are full of occult religious allusions, but piety is not necessary for their enjoyment, only a willingness to sit open-mindedly and let the music take you where it will. Performance and recording are exemplary.


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