In Total Eclipse Tavener is writing in the most eclectic fashion that he ever has. The combination of instruments for a start is unusual but most definately Tavener. He makes use of the Academy of Ancient music and combines this with John Harle on the soprano saxophone and the choir of New College Oxford. The opening to the piece is somewhat startling to the unprepared. Shrieks and screams come from the saxophone and wind creating cascading chords whilst the timpani creates a thunderstorm of crescendos. With Tavener's music one always expects moments of pure serenity and of course this work is no exception. The purity of treble Max Jones voice is that moment for me. Tavener brings the music down from the rampant opening to something peacefully sacred. This truly is music with a greater meaning. An excellent addition to Tavener's works. However, if you are looking for more Tavener of the style of the Protecting Veil, Hymn to the Mother of God, Funeral Ikos, The Lamb, etc. you will be disappointed. Similarly if you are looking for music which is similar to the style of Jan Garbarek (saxohone) and the Hilliard ensemble (an essential CD in my mind) you should perhaps try Preisner's Requiem for a friend. Do not get me wrong i rate this CD very highly but it requires an active listen rather than a passive listen. You would not listen to this as you went to bed like you might with other Tavener works.
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