Tavener: The John Tavener Collection (CD Review - HMV, 2004)

Until 1997, John Tavener was effectively a cult composer. He shot to international prominence when his Song For Athene (a piece written four years earlier) made a stunning impact at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Athene, still highly impressive in its grave, ultimately resplendent impact, leads off this new CD, effectively a 'Best Of' collection. Other well-known works by Tavener that are featured include his setting of Blake's The Lamb (a fine piece, set squarely within the English choral tradition), two extracts from his meditative cello-orchestra composition The Protecting Veil (a classical best-seller from 1988), and Funeral Ikos, where influences of plainchant and Russian church music are clearly evident. There are two world premiere recordings. One is a three-minute extract from The Veil Of The Temple, a recent opus which, at its London premiere, required a small matter of seven hours for the complete performance. The other is Elizabeth Full of Grace, a 12-minute choral setting commemorating the Queen Mother. Overall, this CD ranks as the best introduction to John Tavener that's currently on record.

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