Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Song for Athene

Yianoulis Chalepas 'Η Κοιμομένη' (The Sleeping Girl), 1877, First Cemetery, Athens.

This performance of Tavener's 'Song for Athene' reduced me to a quivering wreck when I first heard it about a year ago. (I deliberately missed Diana's funeral) Every time I listened to it I was choked. I treated myself with it homeopathically - just played it over and over until the sense of beavement it evoked in me faded, and I could listen it in peace. No other piece by Tavener has had this effect on me, although I could not stop playing Ikon of Light when I bought it in 1990-odd. I had a Tavener CD (Lament for Jerusalem) delivered from Amazon this morning. Played it once so far: it began to irritate me. It seemed prolix and repetitive, and I was reminded of a characterisation of his stuff as 'Holy Muzak', and that spoiled it for me, at least for today. I'll try again in a few days.


Bo said...

Yes, 'Lament for Jerusalem' is a bit of a bore, although it has a lovely line: 'eklapsen ep'avtin' which is poignant.

I loved 'Ikon of Light' too, and the Bless duet in 'Mary of Egypt' is lovely, as are a lot of the other shorter choral works. (I loathe 'The Lamb' though.) I thought 'The Akathist of Thanksgiving' was wonderful, and I loved loved loved 'Lamentations and Praises'. (Very stark, immensely repetitive.) 'Agraphon' - which has Patricia Rozario ululating like a Dhrupad cantor, is quite his most amazing piece I think, though not conventionally his most beautiful. I also liked 'Prayer for the Heart' sung by Bjork.

vilges suola said...

I love 'Akathist' too, in small doses. I play it perhaps once a year. Have not heard the others you mention but I'll definitely try and give them a listen. (I might as well hand over my salary to Amazon at the start of each month - it would save time.) One bit of Tavener I played over and over when I first got the CD was the last 3 minutes of 'Innocence'. I find most of that piece very tedious but the end is magical.


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