Tavener: Zodiacs; Ypakoe; Palin; Mandoodles; Pratirupa; In Memory of Two Cats

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COMPOSERS: Tavener
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Tavener
WORKS: Zodiacs; Ypakoe; Palin; Mandoodles; Pratirupa; In Memory of Two Cats
PERFORMER: Ralph van Raat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570442

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Tavener is celebrated for his choral works, most of which are very appealing to the public, so it is to Naxos’s credit that they are issuing this recital of his complete piano music, less well-known and considerably less commercial. Tavener has been composing solo piano music since 1977: Palin, written around the time that he formally joined the Orthodox Church, still carries echoes of his earlier modernist style, yet nonetheless looks forward to the spiritual manner of his mature works. Its title refers to its palindromic form. As a fellow ailurophile, I connected with the pieces inspired by Tavener’s cats, Mandoodles (1982) and In Memory of Two Cats (1986). Zodiacs (1997) is a delightful miniature celebrating the birth of Tavener’s second daughter. Ypakoe comes from the same period. Both pieces include Eastern elements, but the predominant moods in Ypakoe are neo-classical, even Baroque. The one disappointment for me is the latest piece, Pratirupa (2003). It has many attractive, contemplative passages which often have the character of hymns (Pratirupa is Sanskrit for reflection), as well as delightful dance-like episodes, but there are also regular interruptions from full-pedal passages intended to represent outbursts of joy. However, I found these harsh and aggressive rather than joyful. Barry Witherden