Scottish Ensemble - Taverner: Tears of the Angels - Life and Work

Tears of the Angels carries three works by John Tavener: Depart in Peace, for soprano, violin, tampura and strings; My Gaze Is Ever Upon You (solo and taped violin, and string bass drone); and the title piece (violin and string ensemble), which is dedicated "to the suffering people of the Balkans".

All were commissioned by the ensemble, whose director, Clio Gould, is the solo violinist.

Soprano Patricia Rozario features on Depart in Peace, a Greek setting of the Nunc dimittis (Song of Simeon), interspersed with alleluias sung syllable by syllable, as a hymn, and as Middle Eastern chanting.

My Gaze Is Upon Ever You  is a series of 16 flowing "gazes, moments and ecstatic breaths ... spontaneous reactions to people, to landscapes, to animals, to creeping things".

Tears of the Angels (track 3) was premiered in 1996 by the artists on this recording. The booklet notes tell us that, Tavener requests that the piece be played "at the extreme breaking point of tenderness".

As we've come to expect from the composer, achingly beautiful purity emerges in the music on this album. Loving remembrance and longing intermingle with praise and compassion. It must be almost unbearably moving to perform.

A truly ethereal  pervades tracks 2 and 3. i can't imagine such exquisite music being played with deeper feeling or greater skill than the ensemble, particularly Clio Gould, reveals here. Intensity of emotion could not be conveyed so compellingly if it were not being experienced or at least strongly imagined.

'Tis enrichment for the soul. 

Life and Work
01 April 1999