Butterfly Dreams, Schuon Hymnen and Shûnya, all written in 2003, are representative of a genuinely new phase in Tavener’s work, a phase which has reached its climax thus far in the seven-hour-long Veil of the Temple. Butterfly Dreams is an exuberant, light-filled piece setting texts chosen by Alan Barrett concerning butterflies. Though it may initially appear to be a purely secular work, in fact the composer himself regards it as sacred, butterflies in this context being seen as symbols and even vehicles for the sacred. There are, in addition, many musical connections with earlier works by Tavener – the ‘shadow canon’ of the first and last movements, and even more the second movement, ‘Haiku by Kokku’, recall the second of the Two Hymns to the Mother of God; the ‘variations on a scale’ that characterize ‘Haiku by Issa’ are familiar from many works, and the resonant chordal refrains of Pavel Friedmann’s The Butterfly echo the paradisical call of Funeral Ikos.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 2004