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This work was commissioned by Cricklade Music Festival with funds from Southern Arts. It was first performed at the Cricklade Music Festival on 1 October 1995, by the Kiev Chamber Choir with Steven Isserlis (cello), directed by Mykola Gobdych.

I began to write Svyati in early 1995: while sketching it, Iearned that John Williams, father of Jane, my dear friend and publisher, was dying. I could not refrain from dedicating it to Jane and to the memory of her father.

The text is in Church Slavonic, and it is used at almost every Russian Orthodox service, perhaps most poignantly after the congregation have kissed the body in an open coffin at an Orthodox funeral. The choir sings as the coffin is closed and borne out of the church, followed by the mourners with lighted candles. The cello represents the Priest or Ikon of Christ, and should play at a distance from the choir, perhaps at the opposite end of the building. As in Greek drama, choir and priest are in dialogue with each other. Since the cello represents the Ikon of Christ, it must be played without any sentiment of a Western character, but should derive from the chanting of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

from notes by John Tavener © 2017


Tavener & Panufnik (R): 99 Words & other choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD519Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 1 on SIGCD519 [13'08] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD519 track 1

Recording date
1 April 2017
Recording venue
St Augustine's Church, Kilburn, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Hyperion sampler - January 2018 (HYP201801)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: January 2018
    Download-only sampler
  2. Tavener & Panufnik (R): 99 Words & other choral works (SIGCD519)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: November 2017
    Download only
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