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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67475
Recording details: January 2004
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2004
Total duration: 6 minutes 41 seconds

'Polyphony fields 25 singers for this project and for this repertory, I think you've got about a good a choir as you could possibly get. Stephen Layton directs with clarity and sensitivity. In fact, his expert pacing is the main reason for this recording's success. This is one of Layton's best CDs yet, and that's saying something' (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)

'The brilliant, white, celestial light Tavener so effectively evoked earlier in the decade had a chill core. Here—if you will bear with the synaesthesiac overtones—gold seeps in, along with the deep blue traditionally associated with portraits of the Virgin' (Gramophone)

'Stephen Layton's heartfelt commitment to the composer's music brings forth shimmering performances from his excellent choir Polyphony. If you enjoy radiant choral writing and singing, then this is the disc for you' (Choir & Organ)

'there's no doubt about the quality of the performances. Tavener finds devoted interpreters in Polyphony who produce some of the most beautiful choral singing you could ever hope to hear. And all is captured in a glowing recording' (BBC Music Magazine)

'for the Tavener devotee, among whose number I include myself, this disc is an essential survey of the composer's recent musical concerns, and contains some splendid new music' (International Record Review)

'Stephen Layton's superb choir, Polyphony, does wonders in bringing variety to a sequence of John Tavener's works for small chorus that might easily have seemed too slow and meditative' (The Guardian)

'The power of Tavener at his best is fully unlocked by Polyphony and Stephen Layton, whose sensitivity to the sacred and human in his music communicates in every work on this disc' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Polyphony's singing is immaculate, captured in the resonant acoustic of the Temple Church in glorious recorded sound. It's a hard man who would not be moved by this disc' (Fanfare, USA)

'performed with conviction by Stephen Layton's Polyphony. His professional choir manages to convey the hypnotic serenity at the heart of Tavener's latest works, while packing a punch in their more dramatic moments, a strategy supported by Hyperion's A-grade recorded sound' (Music Week)

The Second Coming
composer
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Second Coming takes up the theme of The Bridal Chamber, in the form of Yeats’s poem of the same name. Yeats’s work is pervaded by metaphysics, and though his passage through theosophy and his attempted synthesis in A Vision would perhaps not lead one to expect any coincidence with the themes of Orthodox Christianity, in fact the sense of separation from God underlying the plea for salvation in The Bridal Chamber corresponds exactly to the apocalyptic Yeats:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The instability of the world that turns its back on God is symbolized in the semitone clash (C–D flat) played, barely audibly, on the organ pedals in the work’s first bar. This dyad underlies the entire piece, sometimes resolving onto a simple C, but always returning. And even when the dissonance does resolve, it is masked (to use another Yeatsian word) by harmony from another key on the manuals – one can say symbolically that different keys represent different metaphysical states. The choir reflects and augments this instability, singing a lullaby whose dissolving harmonic logic is periodically interrupted by unison intimations of the darkness to come.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 2004

Other albums featuring this work
'Tavener: Choral Music' (SACDA67475)
Tavener: Choral Music
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