This premiere recording of Sir John Tavener s Towards Silence, written for four string quartets and a large Tibetan bowl, explores the nature of consciousness and the process of dying. Tavener had long wanted to write the work and persuaded Robertson to perform it. However, shortly after the manuscript was completed both men became critically ill and close to death themselves. Tavener, who has Marfan Syndrome, an inherited condition that attacks the body's connective tissue, had a series of major heart attacks while Robertson suffered a near fatal aortic dissection. By August 2008 Robertson had recovered sufficiently to resuscitate the project, which had now taken on a profound significance for himself and for Tavener. The members of the Medici Quartet immediately agreed to reform and identified young professional string quartets with whom to perform and to act as musical mentors. They selected three outstanding British ensembles for the UK performances the Court Lane, Finzi and Cavaleri Quartets and rehearsals began. The music is based on mystical Hindu concepts. I was inspired by reading [French philosopher] Rene Gueron s book Man and his becoming according to the Vedanta, says Tavener. He describes the four states: the waking state, the dream state, the condition of deep sleep, and that which is beyond. I decided very rashly early on to base the music on these four states I couldn t help myself doing so and try to represent them. These are metaphysical inner states but they also can be described as stages of dying. Tavener s vision was for all four quartets to be positioned high up in the cathedral dome,invisible to the audience, and arranged in the shape of a cross, bringing the Christian, Bhuddist and Hindu religions together. This sense of space has been captured in the recording, which is an SACD hybrid that can also be enjoyed on a surround sound setup.