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Track(s) taken from CDA67475

Schuon Hymnen

author of text
author of text
Tradition Sufi Salutation
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: 13 minutes 16 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)
Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) was a metaphysician, and also a Sufi sheikh. As well as an extensive body of writings expounding his religious views, he left the verses set by Tavener in Schuon Hymnen, encapsulating his vision of the Virgin as a ‘primordial and universal woman’. Tavener has reinforced what he describes as the ‘sacral erotic nature’ of Schuon’s words by adding the phrase ‘Nigra sum sed formosa’ (‘I am black but comely’) from the Song of Songs, and the Arabic salutation ‘May peace and blessings be upon thee, Mary’. The work is characterized by a verse-and-refrain structure: Tavener repeats Schuon’s Biblical quotation, ‘Mit der Sonne nur bekleidet’ (‘Clothed with the sun alone’), obsessively throughout the course of the work, with the direction ‘like a repeated mantra’, interspersing it with luminous, floating chordal sections.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 2004

Outre de nombreux écrits exposant ses opinions religieuses, Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998), métaphysicien mais aussi sheikh soufi, laissa les vers mis en musique par Tavener dans Schuon Hymnen, résumé de sa vision de la Vierge, «primordiale et universelle». Tavener a renforcé ce qu’il appelle la «nature érotique sacrale» des paroles de Schuon en leur adjoignant la phrase «Nigra sum sed formosa» («Je suis noire, mais belle»), tirée du Cantique des cantiques, et la salutation arabe: «La paix et les bénédictions soient sur toi, Marie.» L’œuvre se distingue par une structure de type strophe/refrain: Tavener répète la citation biblique de Schuon, «vêtue du seul soleil», de manière obsessionnelle tout au long de l’œuvre, avec l’indication «comme un mantra répété», en la parsemant de sections en accords lumineuses, flottantes.

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

Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) war sowohl Metaphysiker als auch ein Sufi-Gelehrter. Neben seinen umfangreichen Schriften über religiöse Ansichten hinterließ er auch die von Tavener in den Schuon Hymnen vertonten Gedichte, in denen der Komponist seine Vision der Jungfrau Maria als „Urweib und Allweib“ verkörpert sah. Tavener hat das, was er als die „geistlich erotische Natur“ von Schuons Worten beschrieb, verstärkt, indem er die Phrase „Nigra sum sed formosa“ („Ich bin schwarz, aber gar lieblich“) aus dem Hohelied sowie den arabischen Gruß „Der Frieden und Segen sei mit dir, Maria“ hinzufügte. Das Werk zeichnet sich durch eine Vers- und Refrainstruktur aus: Tavener wiederholt im Verlauf des ganzen Werkes unablässig Schuons Bibelzitat „mit der Sonne nur bekleidet“, versieht es mit der Vortragsanweisung „wie ein wiederholtes Mantra“ und durchsetzt es mit leuchtenden, schwebenden Akkordabschnitten.

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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