Tavener: Towards Silence

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Signum
PERFORMER: Medici Quartet; Finzi Quartet; Cavaleri Quartet; Fifth Quadrant


You can listen in stereo, but Towards Silence really comes into its own on the multichannel SACD layer, where the work’s quadraphonic deployment of four string quartets (plus Tibetan temple bowl) is truly immersive, more closely approaching the effect of what Tavener calls ‘liquid metaphysics’ than the conventional concert experience. 

The ‘silence’ of the title is that of death, although the music eschews morbidity: its keynote is rather one of otherness and mystery, a diaphanous adumbration of things as yet unseen, or seen through a glass darkly, at times recalling the visionary Ives of The Unanswered Question.


Tavener’s note explains his ‘five revolving ideas’ and the mathematical relationships between different sections, but the effect on the listener is anything but formulaic in this palpably committed premiere recording. Terry Blain