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… depart in peace …

composer
5 June 1997; for soprano, violin, tanpura and strings
author of text
Luke 2: 29-32

 
After many years of visiting Greece, a country with which he had fallen profoundly in love, Tavener eventually bought himself a house on the island of Evia and it was there, at Pigadaki on 5 June 1997, that he completed the work he was to call … depart in peace …. This is a setting in Greek of the Song of Simeon, otherwise known as the Nunc dimittis, interspersed with Alliuatic antiphons. The word Alleluia is treated in three different ways. Firstly it emerges, syllable by syllable, from the string texture, then it is sung with tender longing almost as a hymn and finally ecstatically ‘like Middle-Eastern chanting’. As the piece progresses these antiphons lengthen and the Middle-Eastern one gets faster and faster. In between the Alleluias, the singer, with great humility and accompanied only by solo violin, tempura and cellos, gradually builds up the Song of Simeon—‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace’. Tavener wrote this work to the ‘eternal memory’ of his father who had recently died and it was first performed at the Hellenic Centre in London by the Scottish Ensemble with Patricia Rozario and Clio Gould on 25 June 1998.

from notes by Peter Avis © 1998

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