9 Nov 2014

Sir John Tavener (1944 – 2013)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 9 November 2014
Sir John Tavener by Devlin Crow

 British composer John Tavener had three significant moments of success in his career: the performances in the late 60s of his avant garde cantata The Whale, which electrified London; the chart-topping The Protecting Veil written for cellist Steven Isserlis, which took his music around the world via classical music radio; and the performance of his choral work Song for Athene at the funeral of Princess Diana, which found an even larger audience through the international televising of that event.

Some people have found Tavener’s music lacking. Certainly, it is almost invariably slow and relatively simple in construction. But his vision is of what music can achieve at the highest spiritual level. “The fact that I’ve been given this universalist vision of the world,” he says, “makes it a possibility that I might be able to contribute just fractionally towards the healing of a planet that’s torn to pieces at the moment.”

Image: Sir John Tavener Photo: Devlin Crow

Music Details:

Tavener: Song for Athene – Choir of the Temple Church, Holst Singers, Ian Le Grice (org) / Stephen Layton (Decca)
Tavener: The Whale – Various, London Sinfonietta / David Atherton (Apple)
Tavener: The Protecting Veil – Steven Isserlis (cello), LSO / Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Virgin)
Tavener: Eternity’s Sunrise – Patricia Rozario (sop), The Academy of Ancient Music / Paul Goodwin (Harmonia Mundi)
Tavener: The Second Coming – Polyphony / Stephen Layton (Hyperion)
Tavener: The Veil of the Temple – Various / Stephen Layton (RCA)