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Track(s) taken from CDA67475

The Second Coming

author of text

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
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 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

The Second Coming, sur un poème de Yeats, reprend le thème de The Bridal Chamber. L’œuvre de Yeats est imprégnée de métaphysique et, bien que l’on ne s’attende pas à trouver chez celui qui est passé par la théosophie (il tenta une synthèse dans A Vision) une quelconque coïncidence thématique avec la chrétienté orthodoxe, le sentiment d’être séparé de Dieu, qui sous-tend l’appel au salut de The Bridal Chamber, correspond en réalité parfaitement au Yeats apocalyptique:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
(Le faucon ne peut entendre le fauconnier,
Les choses tombent en morceaux; le centre ne peut tenir.)

L’instabilité du monde qui tourne le dos à Dieu est symbolisée par la dissonance semi-tonale (ut–ré bémol) jouée, de manière presque inaudible, aux pédales de l’orgue dans la première mesure de l’œuvre. Cette dyade, qui sous-tend toute la pièce, se résout parfois en un simple ut, mais finit toujours par revenir. Et même quand elle se résout effectivement, elle est masquée (pour reprendre un mot yeatsien) par l’harmonie d’une autre tonalité, aux manuels – nous pouvons dire que les différentes tonalités symbolisent autant d’états métaphysiques. Le chœur reflète et amplifie cette instabilité, en chantant une berceuse dont la logique harmonique évanescente est périodiquement interrompue par des pressentiments, à l’unisson, des ténèbres à venir.

extrait des notes rédigées par Ivan Moody © 2004
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

The Second Coming nimmt in Form von Yeats’s Gedicht gleichen Namens das Thema des Stücks The Bridal Chamber wieder auf. Yeats’s Werk ist von Metaphysik durchdrungen, und obwohl seine Erfahrungen mit Theosophie und seine Syntheseversuch in A Vision wohl nicht zur Annahme einer thematischen Verwandtschaft zum orthodoxen Christentum veranlassen würden, entspricht Taveners Entfremdungsgefühl gegenüber Gott, das der in The Bridal Chamber zum Ausdruck kommende Bitte um Rettung zugrunde liegt, genau dem apokalyptischen Yeats:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
(Kann der Falke den Falkner nicht hören;
Sachen brechen auseinander; das Zentrum kann nicht halten.)

Die Instabilität einer Gott ihren Rücken zukehrenden Welt wird durch den Halbtonschritt C–Des symbolisiert, der kaum hörbar auf den Orgelpedalen in den ersten Takten des Werkes gespielt wird. Diese Halbtonspannung liegt dem ganzen Werk zugrunde. Manchmal löst sie sich zu einem einfach C auf, kehrt aber immer wieder zurück. Und selbst wenn sich die Dissonanz auflöst, wird sie durch eine Tonart von einer anderen Taste auf den Manualen maskiert (um ein anderes Wort von Yeats heranzuziehen) – Man kann sagen, dass verschiedene Tasten symbolisch für verschiedene metaphysische Zustände stehen. Der Chor spiegelt diese Instabilität wider und verstärkt sie, indem er dabei ein Wiegenlied singt, dessen sich auflösende harmonische Logik periodisch von unisono dargebotenen Anklängen an die zu erwartende Dunkelheit unterbrochen wird.

aus dem Begleittext von Ivan Moody © 2004
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

Other albums featuring this work

Tavener: Choral Music
This album is not yet available for downloadSACDA67475Super-Audio CD
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