Hyperion Records

Diódia 'String Quartet No 3'
1995; a development from The Toll Houses

'Tavener: The World & Diódia' (CDA67217)
Tavener: The World & Diódia
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67217 
Part 1: Solemn
Part 2: [rehearsal letter I]
Part 3: Solemn and radiant
Part 4: [rehearsal letter Z]
Part 5: [rehearsal letter G1]
Part 6: [rehearsal letter M1]
Part 7: [rehearsal letter S1]

Diódia 'String Quartet No 3'
Diódia (1995) is Tavener’s Third String Quartet, his first two being The Hidden Treasure (1989) and The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1991). Just as each of these works grew out of a major choral piece – The Resurrection and The Apocalypse respectively – so Diódia is similarly related to The Toll Houses (‘Diódia’ means literally ‘Toll Houses’). This large-scale work was inspired by a book of the same name by a Californian monk, Father Seraphim Rose. In the Orthodox Church the concept of the toll houses – more legend than dogma – symbolises ‘the posthumous states of being of the soul, where it is decided whether the soul spends a certain period of time in hell and a certain period of time in heaven’, the composer explains. Diódia he describes as ‘liquid metaphysics. It is distilled from The Toll Houses but it is wordless and more “silent” … The music is basically frozen and the worldly outbursts are to me like phantoms of things in the past’.

These regular ‘worldly’ interruptions – some of an almost Bartókian savagery, others gentler and more dance-like – contrast sharply with the predominantly serene, contemplative mood. Another intermittent feature is a rhythmic figure played on a bandir (drum). Tavener’s original idea was for this rhythm to be tapped on the wood of the viola, but he eventually realised that the drum, with its greater resonance and clarity, would be more effective. In Sufi music this bandir rhythm traditionally symbolises the heartbeat. At the very end of the work, following extremely quiet vocalising – ‘Remember me’, supporting the viola melody, then ‘O God’, nothing remains except the drum, now characterising the familiar rhythm with a crescendo-diminuendo. Concerning the work’s performance Tavener advises: ‘Diódia should be played in a church or in a sacred space, with subdued lighting. It is not music for dissection, therefore it should not even be played in a concert hall’. The quartet was commissioned by the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the City of London Festival, and the Festival de Saint Nazaire, Brittany. Its first performance was given by the Chilingirian Quartet in July 1997, at Bantry House, West Cork.

from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2001

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