Tavener: Fall and Resurrection

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Fall and Resurrection
PERFORMER: Patricia Rozario (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor), Martyn Hill (tenor), Stephen Richardson (bass); BBC Singers, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
John Tavener’s choral-orchestral Fall and Resurrection, recorded by Chandos at its first performance in January, is a ‘message of hope’ for the new millennium. But what does it add to the already extensive canon of his music? In terms of a sense of deepening breadth and depth in his art, not a lot. The composer’s own booklet note proclaims the now familiar framework of his cosmic aspirations, creation, fall, incarnation and the like being freely invoked. At its premiere, the piece turned out to be shorter than expected. Brevity, however, did not equal concision. The programme of selected ‘events that have taken place since the beginning of time’ proved simplistic in terms of a musical structure of repeated, contrasting episodes that in other works has served Tavener well, yet here seemed formulaic. True, the timbre of a kaval (exotic flute) in parts beguiled the ear. But doubt, overall, about musical substance bred other questions: what, for example, in the case of an artist so scornful of Western notions of linear time, exactly is signified by an event, that construct of narrative by which time is so artfully foreshortened? The work is performed with the utmost dedication; but a beacon of hope for the future it is not. Nicholas Williams