Tavener: To a Child Dancing in the Wind / Birtwistle: Entr'Actes and Sappho Fragments
I have long thought that Tavener's cycle To a Child Dancing in the Wind is one of his loveliest creations. As other works such as the Akhmatova cycle also demonstrate, Tavener's music can be surprising indeed when he makes an incursion into the secular world (or the apparently secular: the composer would be the first to point out the sacred elements in the poetry he has set), and these songs are a magnificent explosion of dramatic lyricism in response to a very well-chosen sequence of Yeats's poetry centring on the theme of love. The work has been recorded before by Patricia Rozario on the now-defunct Collins label but this new reading definitely surpasses it. Heidi Grant Murphy's voice is quite different from Rozario's and, I would argue, is in fact more suited to this particular piece. She captures the Irishness and the tenderness of the work in no uncertain terms, and her range of vocal colour astonishingly partners every nuance of Tavener's lovely settings. Her accompanists, the musicians of Auréole, are extraordinary. They move with her in a way which I can only describe as organic.The presence of Birtwistle's Entr'Actes and Sappho Fragments, superficially an unlikely companion for the Tavener, is amply justified in the thought-provoking notes by Tina Chancey. The music is, of course, a completely different listening experience, but there is a similar sense of fragility and transparency of texture that makes them in some sense natural companions, quite apart from the various stylistic connections elaborated on in the notes. This music is more enigmatic and reticent than the Tavener work, certainly, but Murphy and Auréole bring to it the same passion and precision. The only criticism I have of this release is that there are mistakes in the printed texts of the Yeats; otherwise, this is a disc that absolutely demands to be heard. Ivan Moody -- From International Record Review - subscribe now
Top customer reviews
It was essential I owned this CD because of its uncanny Virginia Astley connections. Its not that she takes part in it it goes much deeper than that.
John Tavener is an English composer who first came to fame with the LP "The Whale" issued on the Beatles' Apple label in the 70s
and it was followed by a 2nd called "Celtic Requiem". Apparantly Tavener was a friend of Ringo Starr,and from such auspicious beginnings he went on to become a leading composer in the New Classical. His music was also quite difficult.
Today theres a couple of biographies and regular releases of new works.
In 1996 Virginia Astley made an album called "Had I the Heavens"and the title song was her setting of the same Yeats poem which is displayed on this work. On another song she actually wrote and sang the words "I danced in the wind".
As her No'I fan I am an Astley completist and especially look for other settings of "He who Hath the Cloths of Heaven". So far I have the original John McCormack one,and versions by Nervous,Leslie Garrett,Felicity Lott and Peter Warlock.The one by Leslie Garrett is the most recent setting and uses music composed by Karl Jenkins of Adiemus fame.
This particular one by Tavener is the artistes rarest album,having been out of print for a number of years and the only time I saw one was in a store in London which specialises in deleted classical CDs and vinyl.