john tavener - the whale


.:: Tavener attended Highgate School (where a fellow pupil was John Rutter) and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his tutors included Sir Lennox Berkeley. He first came to prominence in 1968 with his dramatic cantata The Whale, based on the Old Testament story of Jonah. It was premièred at the London Sinfonietta's début concert and later recorded by Apple Records. Other works released by Apple included his Celtic Requiem.

In 1977 Tavener joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox theology and liturgical tradition became a major influence on his work. He was particularly drawn to its mysticism, studying and setting to music the writings of church fathers such as St John Chrysostom.

One of Tavener's most popular and frequently performed works is his short unaccompanied four-part choral setting of William Blake's The Lamb, written on his nephew's third birthday one afternoon in 1985. This simple, homophonic piece is usually performed as a Christmas carol.

Later prominent works include The Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987, written in celebration of the millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church); The Protecting Veil (first performed by cellist Steven Isserlis and the London Symphony Orchestra at the 1989 Proms); and Song For Athene (1993, memorably performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997). Following Diana's death he also composed and dedicated to her memory the piece Eternity's Sunrise, based on poetry by William Blake.

Later Tavener left Orthodox Christianity to explore a number of other different religious traditions, including Hinduism and Islam. In 2003 he composed the exceptionally large work The Veil of the Temple, based on texts from a number of religions. It is set for four choirs, several orchestras and soloists and lasts at least seven hours.

While Tavener's early music was influenced by Igor Stravinsky, often invoking the sound world of the Requiem Canticles and A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer, his recent music is more sparse, uses wide registral space and is usually diatonically tonal. Some commentators see a similarity with the works of Arvo Pärt, from their common religious tradition to the technical details of phrase lengths, diatonicism and coloristic percussion effects. Olivier Messiaen has also been suggested as a strong influence on his earlier work.

In 2000 John Tavener was knighted for his services to music.

It was the appearance of 'The Whale' in 1968 that catapulted the mop-haired prodigy to fame. 1968 was a year of discovery and innovation in the pop as well as the classical world: Tavener had six significant new works premiered, among them 'The Whale' which made his reputation. It was the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall that saw it's premiere under David Atherton.. It uses the then highly fashionable collage, pre-recorded tape, amplified percussion and a chorus using loudhailers: an Iconoclasm which Tavener has since turned his back on.

The Beatles began to take note: Ringo Starr was given a tape of 'The Whale' and Tavener met John and Yoko for a dinner and music evening in Kensington - the next day Lennon had decided to issue Tavener's music on the newly formed Apple label. The Whale, Celtic Requiem, Coplas and Nomine Jesu were issued on LP.

.:: Música sacra, música sagrada. Lo sagrado en la música. No solamente tenemos la tradición cristiana, heredada desde los primeros tiempos y afianzada en la actualidad con el furor por los cantos gregorianos.

Actualmente, los compositores contemporáneos vuelven a acercarse a esas modalidades de la música. Hubo un tiempo durante el cual lo importante era la música por ella misma y se descalificaba cualquier intento de dotar de significado (semantizar, en palabras del esteta musical Enrico Fubini) al discurso musical. Hoy en día tales consideraciones comparten territorio con la necesidad de transmitir un mensaje, siendo la música el más adecuado vehículo para ello.

Los nombres Arvo Part (Estonia, 1935), John Tavener (Londres, 1944) y Henrik Gorecki (Czernica, 1933), por mencionar a los más famosos en el ámbito internacional, han dedicado en la actualidad lo mejor de sus neuronas a la composición para la gloria de Dios. Advertencia: esto no implica que sean los únicos.

Actualmente conocemos a John Tavener como uno de los exponentes de la corriente que se ha denominado como neo-misticismo. Sin embargo, pocos recuerdan que su adhesión a este tipo de estilo, que evoca la música medieval y renacentista, se inició recién a mediados de la década de 1970, después que el compositor abrazó la religión ortodoxa. Más aún, antes de sufrir ese giro estilístico, Tavener había escrito varias e importantes obras, pero todas seguían un lenguaje bastante más experimental.

La primera de ellas, la cantata dramática Caín y Abel, fue compuesta mientras estudiaba en la Royal Academy of Music y le permitió obtener el premio Príncipe Rainero de Mónaco en 1965. Luego vino otra cantata bíblica, titulada The Whale e inspirada en la leyenda de Jonás, que alcanzó un éxito tremendo en Inglaterra, tanto que fue grabada en 1970 en Apple Records, la recordada compañía de The Beatles.

Y fue en ese mismo sello donde Tavener editó su siguiente obra, el Réquiem Celta (obra que subiré tan pronto como me sea posible), escrita en 1969 para coros de niños, coros adultos y orquesta sobre textos de diversos autores. Su contenido ofrece una macabra comparación entre un juego infantil y el rito de la muerte. Hay un personaje central, la niña Jenny Jones, que es utilizada como víctima ficticia para este juego, pero afortunadamente el simulacro fúnebre concluye con su supuesta resurrección y escape de un clima mortuorio realmente claustrofóbico.

***si disfrutas de la intensidad de Krzysztof Penderecki este album es para ti… no lo dejes pasar y bajalo***

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1 comments:

Nora said...

Wow, great album. Thank you so much. I really love Tavener's later work, so I'm very curious to hear how he started out, even if it might be quite different from what I'm used to.

 
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