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Track(s) taken from GIMSE404

Ode of Saint Andrew of Crete

First line:
My help and protector is my God, and I will proclaim his glory
1981; also called the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete
author of text
from the Great Canon of Saint Andrew, translated by Sister Katherine and Mother Thekla

Jeremy White (bass), The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Recording details: January 1982
Memorial Chapel, Charterhouse, Godalming, United Kingdom
Produced by Steve C Smith & Peter Phillips
Engineered by Bob Auger
Release date: April 2014
Total duration: 21 minutes 55 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph of Sir John Tavener on the Greek island of Aegina in January 1981 by Peter Phillips.

Other recordings available for download

St George's Chapel Choir Windsor, Christopher Robinson (conductor), Matthew Brook (bass)


'Perhaps the time is right for the musical establishment (and the record industry) to begin to recognize Tavener as one of our most gifted and important composers of choral music. I hope so, for a talent so prodigious and special as his appears all too infrequently in today’s climate of intellectually orientated creativity … Ikon of Light dates from 1984, and is arguably one of his most sublime creations … The Tallis Scholars have a very special affinity and affection for Tavener’s music (he has written a number of works with them in mind) and this is evident from their committed performance of this penetrating and visionary work … superbly recorded in the Gimell tradition … a moving and richly rewarding programme that deserves to win many friends' (Gramophone)

‘Ikon of Light comes steeped in the traditional soundscape of Orthodox worship and is timeless in its musical response to the idea of an icon opening a window on eternity. It was commissioned by The Tallis Scholars whose atmospheric early recording is hard to beat’ (BBC Music Magazine)
Saint Andrew of Crete was born late in the seventh century. His Great Canon, one of the most remarkable spiritual texts of Orthodoxy and one of the most extraordinary poetic achievements of Greek literature, is appointed to be read in its entirety at the morning service of Thursday in the fifth week of Great Lent. Tavener sets only the first Ode of the Canon (a complex liturgical form in the Orthodox Rite), from which the length of the whole may be gauged. The composer has said that the music (written in 1981) was prompted by his feelings of penitence during Lent, which in the Orthodox Church is very austere. The piece is in essence a very slow chromatic descent—a musical prostration. It begins and ends with an irmos. In between are twenty-three troparia (elements, like the irmos, of hymnography proper to the Canon) sung by a single male voice. The choir responds to each troparion alternatively in English, Greek, and Slavonic, with the phrase ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me’.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 1991

Saint André de Crète naquit vers la fin du septième siècle. Son Grand Canon, l’un des textes spirituels les plus remarquables de l’Orthodoxie et une des réussites poétiques les plus extraordinaires de la littérature grecque doit être lu en entier durant le service matinal du jeudi, dans la cinquième semaine du Grand Carême. Tavener n’a mis en musique que la première Ode du Canon, mais cela nous permet de juger de la longueur du texte en entier. Le compositeur dit que la musique (écrite en 1981) lui fut suggérée par les sentiments de pénitence durant le Carême. Le morceau est en essence une descente chromatique très lente—une prostration musicale. Il commence et se termine par un «irmos». Entre eux se trouvent vingt-trois «troparia» (éléments, comme les «irmos» d’hymnographie propres au Canon) chantés par une seule voix d’homme. Le chœur répond à chaque «troparion» avec la phrase «Ayez pitié de moi, mon Dieu, ayez pitié de moi», alternativement en anglais, grec et slave.

extrait des notes rédigées par Ivan Moody © 1991
Français: Alain Midoux

Der heilige Andreas von Kreta wurde in der zweiten Hälfte des 7. Jahrhunderts geboren. Sein Großer Kanon, einer der bedeutsamsten geistlichen Texte der orthodoxen Kirche und eine der großartigsten poetischen Leistungen der griechischen Literatur, ist dazu bestimmt, beim Morgengottesdienst am Donnerstag der fünften Fastenwoche in voller Länge verlesen zu werden. Tavener vertont nur die 1. Ode des Kanons (einer komplexen liturgischen Form des orthodoxen Ritus), aus der sich der Umfang des Gesamtwerks ersehen läßt. Der Komponist sagt dazu, die (1981 entstandene) Musik sei von seinen Gefühlen der Bußfertigkeit zur Fastenzeit bestimmt, die in der orthodoxen Kirche streng eingehalten wird. Das Stück ist im Grunde ein einziger, äußerst langsamer chromatischer Abstieg—eine musikalische Prostration. Es beginnt und endet mit einem irmos. Dazwischen finden sich 23 Troparien (wie beim irmos handelt es sich hierbei um dem Kanon eigene hymnographische Elemente), gesungen von einer einzelnen Männerstimme. Der Chor antwortet auf jedes Troparion, abwechselnd auf Englisch, Griechisch und Slawisch, mit der Phrase „Erbarme Dich meiner, O Gott, erbarme Dich meiner“.

aus dem Begleittext von Ivan Moody © 1991
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

Other albums featuring this work

Tavener: Sacred Music
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