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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

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on 30 March 2017
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on 1 December 2008
This is a lovely collection of Tavener's choral music, perfect for introducing a newcomer to his style and leaving him or her wanting more. It includes the `Song for Athene', made famous by the Diana, Princess of Wales funeral, but it offers many more pieces, such as `The Lamb', and `Svyati', which show an even broader aspect of Tavener's soothing, peaceful style. This is music with great depth, suitable for accompanying meditation, for listening in the dark, or for reaching towards an understanding of life. The choir of St John's College, Cambridge and Christopher Robinson achieve a sound that perfectly suits the music.
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on 11 January 2008
I have listened to this CD on and off since it was released 7 years ago and, even though the music may appear repetitive, I have not tired of it. I think this is because, like great liturgical music (admittedly all the work is not liturgical), it is ecstatically and transcendentally focused. For me, this music is winter music, it gathers one into oneself, but at the same time, it draws one out of oneself. And, that is what great music does. My impression though is that the music is not sung and recorded as sublimely as some of the other works in this Naxos series - I am thinking of the Britten and the Howells CDs, which are beautiful. And yet, it is well worth the buy!
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on 20 November 2004
On one level this is a great CD. Under the direction of Christopher Robinson the Choir of St John's College Cambridge have drunk deeply of the idiom of John Tavener's choral works, which combine Russian intensity with the classic British Choral tradition. They have transported themselves into his musical world and their performances are quite different than those on other CDs in this series of works by more conventionally British composers such as Stanford and Finzi: more urgent, more rapt, more other worldly.
On the other hand the limitations of John Tavener's style are revealed. He talks a good talk about the wrong turning western music took at the beginning of the modern era and about returning to an earlier universal musical purity. But what does he give us? By the time I am half way through this disc I feel that I am being sentenced to an hour of stair walking as I hear yet another ascent and descent of the same scales.
There is no doubt that taken one at a time these pieces are works of beauty. But taken together their repetitive nature is made obvious.
There are also problems with the sound levels on the first few tracks. On God With Us the intrusions by the organ towards the end are too loud, and in Song for Athene there is too great a dynamic range. These tracks require the listener to have one hand on the volume control. After that things improve.
There is one obvious piece of wrong information on the back cover of the CD. John Tavener is described as having a strong Greek Orthodox faith, when in fact he was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church for many years. The booklet notes are of a good standard and add to appreciation of the works
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on 6 February 2001
All the Tavener "standards" are here (Song for Athene, The Lamb etc.) plus some less common pieces. The Funeral Ikos is the most wonderful thing I've ever heard, the Christmas Proclamation is simply spine-tingling and the Magnificat heart-stopping. The Svyati to finish it with - excellent.....
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on 16 January 2016
As the owner of a reasonable collection of Tavener recordings, this disc of Tavener's choral music performed by the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, and Christopher Robinson is something of a classic. It presents a well-matched combination of a composer whose music is sometimes regarded as overtly mystical with a choir that, for many, personifies an earthier, richer sound than is typical of British liturgical choral foundations.

The programme is varied enough, including a good number of Tavener's choral 'hits', as well as pieces that were less well known at the time of the CD's release. Certainly it is a less daring programme than that of 'Innocence', as recorded by Martin Neary & co. but its internal contrasts are enjoyable nonetheless. The vigorous 'God is with us' sets the stage for the more peaceful 'Song for Athene' and so on. The not untypical pairing of 'The Lamb' and 'The Tyger' works particularly well here, with the vigour of the choir allowing a spacious dynamic range without seeming to flag or to lose subtlety when it is required - a comment that can be made about all of the pieces. Robinson's interpretations are sure-footed, compelling, and seem not to lapse too far into the over-indulgence that Tavener sometimes inspires.

The recording itself is very well handled, balancing intimacy and highly detailed sound with a sense of space and warmth, which is no mean feat.

One of my favourite discs of Tavener's music.
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on 18 April 2016
I bought it for the music following a concert which contained some of this CD. The book was therefore a valuable extra for me.
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on 22 December 2014
Classy collection by JT, easy to listen to and well produced and recorded.
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on 6 January 2014
Prompt delivery, excellent service.CD is a mto listen to - Choir outstanding, and organ sounds thrilling. I'm not a fan of modern music, but Tavener captivates me. Well recommended.
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on 4 December 2014
Beautiful ethereal sounds
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