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John Tavener: Akhmatova Requiem / Elise Ross, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, sopranos; John Shirley-Quirk, bass-bar.; The Nash Ensemble; BBC SO; Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Album Summary

>Tavener, John : Akhmatova
>Tavener, John : Russian Folk Songs (6) for soprano & ensemble
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, March 2015
This heartfelt setting of Anna Akhmatova's blistering condemnation of Stalinist atrocities still packs an enormous punch...The Requiem grips from the start...Phyllis Bryn-Julson is on strong form, portraying outrage with convincing passion while avoiding operatic melodramatics...the Requiem is, against all odds, ultimately uplifting, paying tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

Tavener's avant-garde style of the seventies contrasts with the contemplative beauty of his later works, for which he is best known, yet he spirituality and mysticism is still present. Akhmatova Requiem (1980) sets a sequence of poems written during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s by Anna Akhmatova, describing the terror of having her family and friends arrested and imprisoned, and the lines of relatives waiting hopelessly outside Leningrad jail. To her poems, Tavener added prayers from the Russian Orthodox funeral service which are sung on this recording by bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk. Six Russian Folk Songs (1978) represent, in the composer's words, 'a musical sigh of relief' and a complete contrast to the pain and sorrow of the Requiem; they were written for the Nash Ensemble's 15th anniversary in 1979. Simple settings of folk lyrics, their melodic nature recalls Tchaikovsky's songs. (This recording was previously issued by Carlton Classics in its BBC Radio Classics series.)

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
Akhmatova Requiem (1980) is a setting of the Russian poet's cycle of the same name, written in the late 1930s in witness to Stalinist atrocities. Tavener adds some Russian Orthodox funeral prayers for the bass soloist. It is scored for brass, strings, and percussion. Rozhdestvensky is the perfect partner, both musically and historically.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Royal Albert Hall, London (08/27/1981); The Roundhouse, London (08/27/1981); Royal Albert Hall, London (09/02/1979); The Roundhouse, London (09/02/1979).


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Works Details

>Tavener, John : Akhmatova :: Requiem, for soprano, bass & orchestra
  • Performers: John Shirley-Quirk (Bass Baritone); Phyllis Bryn-Julson
  • Conductor: Gennady Rozhdestvensky
  • Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1979-1980

>Tavener, John : Russian Folk Songs (6) for soprano & ensemble
  • Performer: Elise Ross (Soprano)
  • Ensemble: Nash Ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1978