Tavener: Two Hymns to the Mother of God; The Lamb; The Tiger; Ikon of Light; Today the Virgin; Eonia

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COMPOSERS: Tavener
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Two Hymns to the Mother of God; The Lamb; The Tiger; Ikon of Light; Today the Virgin; Eonia
PERFORMER: Members of the Duke Quartet, The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: 14052 DDD
Tired of hearing The Protecting Veil in its version for cello and strings? Then try listening to the Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God on this new CD, a short, unaccompanied piece from 1985, where some of the key ideas from Tavener’s acclaimed score seem echoed in abbreviated choral form.

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There are other surprises in this remarkable collection, chosen by the composer and released to coincide with his 50th birthday in January. Two of them are the anthems The Tiger and The Lamb, the Tavener you’re most likely to find in a cathedral setting, but which here sound more Orthodox than Anglican. The Sixteen give Russian soul to the long-held bass notes, while offering bright, effective readings of more recent pieces, the joyous Today the Virgin and the restrained Eonia. The vintage Tavener choral sound of rising scales and endless chords stretched out to everlasting glory is heard in the first item, a Hymn to the Mother of God, partner to the Hymn for the Dormition mentioned above. Its dark opposite lies in the stark interruptions of Ikon of Light, a major score of 1984 presented in an authoritative performance under the direction of Harry Christophers with members of the Duke String Quartet. Nicholas Williams