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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67217
Recording details: June 2000
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: January 2001
Total duration: 14 minutes 52 seconds

'The Vanbrugh Quartet’s intense and committed performance is of the highest calibre. An indispensable and thoroughly recommendable disc' (Gramophone)

‘The music generates an intense, mesmerising background stillness. I can’t imagine [it] performed better. The recording balances clarity and atmosphere to near-perfection’ (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Akhmatova Songs are among Tavener’s most impressive works of recent years. Performances are exemplary, as is the recording' (International Record Review)

'A disc that I can recommend without reservation' (Fanfare, USA)

'A sensational performance' (Music Week)

'In these pieces for singer and string quartet [Patricia Rozario] is at her very best, soaring to strenuous heights in the Akhmatova Songs and spinning a peculiar magic in The World' (Amazon.co.uk)

‘A first class release, which Tavener enthusiasts should not be without’ (MusicWeb International)

'If you doubt that Tavener is a composer of substance, this disc should change your mind' (Opera News)

'Rozario sings divinely and the excellent Vanbrugh Quartet play with magical effect' (The Northern Echo)

Akhmatova Songs
composer
1993; this version for soprano and string quartet first performed on 16 March 1995
author of text
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Having already set poems of Anna Akhmatova in his Akhmatova: Requiem of 1979/80, Tavener returned to the great Russian poet’s work in his Akhmatova Songs. Completed in 1993, they are based on poems from different periods of Akhmatova’s life. While the first three express her admiration for other great poets, the fourth (Couplet) treats praise of her own work with suspicion. The Muse vividly evokes the welcome inspiration brought by ‘the kindly guest’, and the final poem, in which the musical material of the previous songs is recalled, eloquently conveys the anticipation of death. Tavener has explained how the poems attracted him because of ‘their simplicity, their starkness, their lack of frills, their complete lack of complexity’. He includes the Akhmatova Songs among his own favourite pieces. Covering a wide emotional range, from the increasingly declamatory ‘Pushkin and Lermontov’ to the childlike innocence of ‘Boris Pasternak’, these economical yet austerely beautiful songs represent an ideal fusion of words and music. Originally composed for soprano and cello (specifically Patricia Rozario and Steven Isserlis, two of Tavener’s favourite musicians) following a commission from the Cricklade Music Festival, the Akhmatova Songs were arranged for soprano and string quartet in response to a new commission by The Nash Ensemble. In this form they were first heard on 16 March 1995. Since her notable success in the title role of Tavener’s Mary of Egypt in 1992, Patricia Rozario has been the composer’s automatic first choice for his subsequent works requiring a solo soprano.

from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2001

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