Tavener: his works, his life, his words

Two discs celebrating Tavener's 60th birthday; music spanning from his early works to the present day

Composer: Tavener
Repertoire: John Tavener – A Portrait
Artists: Various
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Orchestral/Instrumental/Vocal
Label: Naxos 8.558152-53                

Cynics question how John Tavener evolved from composer of modernist scores to that of works rooted in what he rather vaguely describes as the Great Tradition. Tavener’s philosophical and spiritual development since his formative years has also been interpreted as symptomatic of a man in pursuit of self-indentity and a public image. This two-disc set from the educational division of Naxos, released in time for the composer’s 60th birthday, reveals a bold line running through Tavener’s work that connects the products of his early maturity with those of today. Personally, I find his recent Sufi-inspired, ‘Universalist’ pieces, less convincing than the best from his Orthodox period. And yet, as Björk’s pungent premiere performance of Prayer of the Heart shows, Tavener remains a powerful communicator.