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Tavener: Choral Ikons [DVD] [2002]

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Tavener: Choral Ikons [DVD] [2002] + Tavener: Fall & Resurrection [DVD] [2002]
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Product details

  • Actors: The Choir, James Whitbourn
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Oct 2002
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000065UHJ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,910 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Special Features
Manifestations of God - Sir John Tavener on his Choral music. The parents of Athene talk about the inspiration behind Song for Athene

The ikon chooses you - Ikon expert Robert J. Roozemond on spiritual and artistic origions of ikons

illustrated booklet - with an introduction by Sir John Tavener, an in-depth article on the inspirational power of ikons in English, French and German plus full song texts

Feature Length: 100 mins Approx
Audio: Dolby digital Surround Sound Colour


John Tavener has described his works as being like "Ikons in sound" and so it's a neat idea to bring visuals and music together in Choral Ikons. The driving creative force behind his music is his Orthodox Christian faith, and he talks eloquently about it and his belief in universality in the documentary "Manifestations of God". He also discusses the "muses beyond the grave" who gave their names to his Song for Athene and A Parting Gift for Tam Farrow, and offers some fascinating comments on William Blake (two of whose poems are set here). It's an illuminating glimpse into the mind of this erudite, yet musically approachable figure.

The musical performances themselves, by James Whitbourne's small (14-voice) choir, are extremely compelling. They were recorded in the epic, arching spaces of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (in its time a church, then mosque and now museum). Highlights include the sustained and enthralling The Hymn of the Unwaning Light and the simple but memorable The Lord's Prayer. Unfortunately, visually the presentation is a mess, with an overload of technological trickery. This ranges from the irritating ruse of fading in and out single singers against a backdrop of frescoes and Blake paintings to the virtual reconstruction of how the Hagia Sophia might have looked in the sixth century, complete with Byzantine lighting. The result looks cheap, reminiscent of the crude graphics of early computer games. But if you can get over that obstacle you're in for an aural treat.

On the DVD: Choral Ikons on disc includes Tavener's own commentary, plus a 12-minute introduction to Ikon painting (in Dutch with subtitles) by Robert J Roozemond, director of the Ikon Museum in The Hague. It's fascinating and strangely moving, which pretty much sums up the appeal of this issue. The disc is region-free and comes with Dolby surround or LPCM stereo options and impressively sharp 16:9 anamorphic picture. There are optional subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. A user-friendly booklet includes comments from Tavener, the virtual reality designers and background information. --Harriet Smith

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paracelsus1966 on 28 July 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a real treat for Tavener fans. Ignore the comments in the Amazon review - the computer graphics are well-done and in good taste. The reconstructed Hagia Sophia looks awesome! The performances are marvellous, but the real icing on the cake - at least for me - are the extras: Sir John - wrapped in either a shawl or oriental tea-towel - holding forth with great passion on the pieces on the DVD and stressing the importance of their universalism (i.e. relevance to all faiths, not just Christianity), and the mini-doc 'The Ikon Chooses You', in which a Dutch ikon scholar also holds forth, but somewhat less passionately that Sir John.
The DVD also allows you to choose between various stereo options, and also subtitles. Sir John's comments can either be viewed after each piece, or as one continuous whole.
For me, this is music of tremendous importance: Tavener is a die-hard old school romantic in a way, who stresses the elevation of the artist's position, and the artist's link to God. But these are links which our troubled and secular age is in dire need of. John Tavener is, in this respect, one of our most important living artists, and this DVD celebrates his vision admirably.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a good recording of Tavener's best-known pieces, and a visually interesting presentation. A present for my sister who has decided she wants "Song for Athene" played at her funeral!
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