Saturday, October 10, 2009

John Tavener - Song for Athene

I'd never heard of the contemporary John Tavener before watching the funeral of Princess Diana on TV, but he is a direct descendant of the 16th century composer John Taverner, who I had at least heard of.

But oh my God, I still remember so keenly the electrifying effect that his Song for Athene had on me at the time. Very much the musical highlight of the ceremony as the funeral party drawn from the Welsh Guards slowly carried her coffin out of the Abbey.

It is composed of verses from the Orthodox burial service and Shakespeare's Hamlet and was written in memory of Athene Hariades, who died tragically in March 1993.

A wonderfully beautiful piece of music that, despite wanting to burst out, is kept tightly bound together, its emotional content restrained. But towards the end you can hear the pressure mount and then the bonds break!

This YouTube video isn't from that telecast, the one I found being of very poor quality.

"May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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