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Tavener: Schuon Hymnen, etc / Layton, Polyphony

Album Summary

>Tavener, John : Birthday Sleep, for chorus
>Tavener, John : Butterfly Dreams, for chorus
>Tavener, John : The Second Coming, for chorus & organ
>Tavener, John : Schuon Hymnen, for chorus
>Tavener, John : As one who has slept, for double chorus
>Tavener, John : The Bridal Chamber, for 2 countertenors, 3 tenors, baritone & 2 basses
>Tavener, John : Exhortation and Kohima, for double chorus
>Tavener, John : Shûnya, for chorus & temple bowls
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"I've praised Stephen Layton's Polyphony extravagantly in at least five of their recent recordings, and this one gives me no reason to alter my very high opinion of them. Hyperion's usual exemplary sound, full texts, and interesting notes wrap up a luscious package that no Tavener devotee will want to do without." - Koob, American Record Guide

'there's no doubt about the quality of the performances. Tavener finds devoted interpreters in Polyphony who produce some of the most beautiful choral singing you could ever hope to hear. And all is captured in a glowing recording' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The power of Tavener at his best is fully unlocked by Polyphony and Stephen Layton, whose sensitivity to the sacred and human in his music communicates in every work on this disc' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Stephen Layton's superb choir, Polyphony, does wonders in bringing variety to a sequence of John Tavener's works for small chorus that might easily have seemed too slow and meditative' (The Guardian)

'for the Tavener devotee, among whose number I include myself, this disc is an essential survey of the composer's recent musical concerns, and contains some splendid new music' (International Record Review)

'performed with conviction by Stephen Layton's Polyphony. His professional choir manages to convey the hypnotic serenity at the heart of Tavener's latest works, while packing a punch in their more dramatic moments, a strategy supported by Hyperion's A-grade recorded sound' (Music Week)

'The brilliant, white, celestial light Tavener so effectively evoked earlier in the decade had a chill core. Here - if you will bear with the synaesthesiac overtones - gold seeps in, along with the deep blue traditionally associated with portraits of the Virgin' (Gramophone)

'Stephen Layton's heartfelt commitment to the composer's music brings forth shimmering performances from his excellent choir Polyphony. If you enjoy radiant choral writing and singing, then this is the disc for you' (Choir & Organ)

'Polyphony fields 25 singers for this project and for this repertory, I think you've got about a good a choir as you could possibly get. Stephen Layton directs with clarity and sensitivity. In fact, his expert pacing is the main reason for this recording's success. This is one of Layton's best CDs yet, and that's saying something' (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)

'Polyphony's singing is immaculate, captured in the resonant acoustic of the Temple Church in glorious recorded sound. It's a hard man who would not be moved by this disc' (Fanfare, USA)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
As One Who Has Slept, the earliest work here, represents Tavener's most musically ascetic period, which, by 1996 was drawing to a close. The mesmeric use of dronelike chords behind and beyond the melodic lines reassures and comforts the listener during this portrait of Christ's harrowing of hell. He soon returned to a warmer palette and a wider range of techniques. In Birthday Sleep and The BridalChamber (1999) hymn-like tunes still predominate, but the voices move more independently, the harmonies are richer.

The 2001 setting of Yeats's The Second Coming is full of skilfully realised, dramatically startling gestures, but the mood is quizzical where it should describe fear-threaded apprehension, bombastic where it should be aghast with dismay.

Finally, a group of pieces completed in 2003. In Butterfly Dreams, a set of miniatures, form and content are better matched. Parts of Schuon Hymnen, especially the writing for solo soprano (a glittering, heart-lifting performance by Amy Haworth) suggests music from 1950s sci-fi films: as with those films, it's easy to see how the effects are achieved, yet somehow the magic survives. Exhortation and Kohima achieves a Tudoresque splendour, while Shûnya adds elements of Buddhist ritual to the mix.



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Works Details

>Tavener, John : Birthday Sleep, for chorus
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1999

>Tavener, John : Butterfly Dreams, for chorus
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003

>Tavener, John : The Second Coming, for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (Organ)
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001

>Tavener, John : Schuon Hymnen, for chorus
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003

>Tavener, John : As one who has slept, for double chorus
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1996

>Tavener, John : The Bridal Chamber, for 2 countertenors, 3 tenors, baritone & 2 basses
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1999

>Tavener, John : Exhortation and Kohima, for double chorus
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003

>Tavener, John : Shûnya, for chorus & temple bowls
  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble: Polyphony
  • Notes: The Temple Church, London, England (01/03/2004-01/05/2004)
  • Running Time: 18 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003