John Tavener

Byzantia: Music of John Tavener

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John Tavener is a contemporary British composer who was one of the first artists to have his music ('The Whale,' a Biblical fantasy for voices and orchestra) released on Apple, the Beatles' record label, in 1969. Tavener's music has affinities with the music of Arvo Pärt and other composers of the former Soviet Union: it is tonal, influenced by minimalism and early music forms as well as liturgical choral music. BYZANTIA is a collection of Tavener's music from the EMI and Virgin labels, recorded from 1994 to 1998, and gives the listener a fine cross-section of his works for different ensembles. 'The Hidden Treasure' is a spare, deceptively gentle piece that at times recalls Barber's Adagio for Strings. 'Annunciation' is for a capella choir: it combines moderate repetition, judicious use of space (similar to Ligeti) and devotional fervor for a quietly riveting effect. BYZANTIA makes a beautiful introduction to one of the 20th century's best composers.

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