Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Shadow and a Dream

Sir John Tavener died today. Either he's gone to his rewards and crowns or he's simply ceased to exist. Depending on the day, either possibility can seem to me likely or absurd. Here's his 'Song for Athene', written for a young Anglo-Greek woman who died in a cycling accident. The final phrase 'Come! Enjoy rewards and crowns I have prepared for you!' starts decisively and stretches out in a beautiful arc before descending back into the drone ( ison)  that represents the unchanging nature of God, and it brings me out in gooseflesh every time I hear it. Yeah, well...You're a long time dead. Those of us still on parade can be grateful that Tavener was for a while among us, and left us such beautiful noises.


Here's a beautiful orchestral version of Song for Athene arranged by Tavener for violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Tavener: Song For Athene by Nicola Benedetti; Andrew Litton: London Philharmonic Orchestra on Grooveshark

The lyrics are from Hamlet and the Orthodox funeral service. 

Alleluia. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Alleluia. Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.
Alleluia. Give rest, O Lord, to your handmaid, who has fallen asleep.
Alleluia. The Choir of Saints have found the well-spring of life and door of Paradise.
Alleluia. Life: a shadow and a dream.
Alleluia. Weeping at the grave creates the song: Alleluia. Come, enjoy rewards and crowns I have prepared for you.


Bo said...

I heard it here. So sad. Utterly changed my life.

Bo said...

Actually I really can't stop crying.

Vilges Suola said...

I first found your blog while googling for info on Tavener, and really liked what you wrote. Did you know him?

Bo said...

I met him only twice, on both occasions quite briefly. But he made a great impression, and the music has meant more than any other to me--especially given my general amusia, which I know you understand! I used to dream about him a lot.

Vilges Suola said...

Maybe 'amusia' is going a bit far in both our cases - at least we can articulate why a piece of music moves us and recommend it to others, and you do this far more eloquently than I do - I'm thinking of your great piece on 'Aion'.


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