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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Lalishri (2006)
Commissioned by The Southbank Centre
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
35 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
John Tavener Lalishri (2006)
Lalishri was inspired by the fourteenth century Hindu Saint and poet Lalla Yogishwari. Her poetry with its combination of intensity and simplicity made me think of the “innocent intensity” of Nicola Benedetti’s playing; indeed the solo violin represents the song of Lalla. When Lalla discovered ATMA or the true SELF (which is none other than God inside her) she danced naked throughout Kashmir. This spiritual nakedness manifests itself in bodily nakedness. The music is in five sections moving through dance, ecstatic trance to a musical expression of Bliss. This anyway is the intention of Lalishri, and with the help of Nicola’s playing maybe we can give something of a glimpse, however poor or inadequate of that blissful state that Lalla Yogishwari reached.

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Nicola Benedetti, violin
    Andrew Litton
    UCJ Music:
  • 06 MAY 2014
    ADHOC Ensemble
  • 13 DEC 2009
    Middenbeemster, Holland
    Amstel Strijker Ensemble
  • 12 DEC 2009
    Lalishri Country Premiere
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Amstel Strijker Ensemble
  • 25 SEP 2009
    Composer of the Week, BBC Radio 3
  • 27 MAR 2009
    Lalishri US Premiere
    Kansas City, USA
    Kansas City Symphony Orchestra
    Michael Stern, conductor

    Other Dates:
    28,29 March - Kansas City, USA
  • 26 SEP 2007
    Lalishri World Premiere
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Nicola Benedetti; Andrew Litton, conductor

The dances acheived a kind of apotheosis in multi-divided strings at one point, and the real climax, with Benedetti's broken octaves soaring exultantly above sustained chords from the string quartet at heaven's gate, as it were, carried an undeniable quality of ecstasy. You left humming the refrain that serves as a benediction over each section of the piece...
Edward Seckerson, The Independent,28/09/2007
The soloist starts alone, then is supported by an aura of orchestral strings that breathe around her, and at times join in the dance. There's also a string quartet, high on stage, which freezes time now and again, and which leads to the glowing resonances of affirmation - the final expression of bliss to which the music aspires.
Hilary Finch, The Times,28/09/2007
It has moments of great beauty, not least the slow theme so strikingly similar in outline to the middle movement of Bruch’s G minor Concerto, the ubiquitous. But this is in no way a derivative work. Rather it strikes out on its own independent way with little attempt to follow traditional concerto form. [...]Sometimes wistful and mystic, sometimes wild and exhilarating;
Edward Clark, Classical,28/09/2007
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