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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Requiem Fragments (2013)
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
25 Minutes
Programme Note
John Tavener Requiem Fragments (2013)
Preview the score

  • 23 SEP 2014
    Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory Moscow, Russia
    Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory
    Peter Philips, conductor
  • 23 SEP 2014
    Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory Moscow, Russia
    The Tallis Scholars
    Peter Philips, conductor
  • 04 AUG 2014
    BBC Proms 2014
    Royal Albert Hall
    The Heath Quartet and the Tallis Scholars
    Carolyn Sampson; Peter Phillips, conductor

“That piece shows Tavener at his most soulful and pensive. It subverts the traditional western requiem structure by leaving out some of the usual elements and replacing them with Hindu acclamations. It builds towards a 17-part polyphonic triumph with a soprano solo soaring over the top - yet its magnificence is muted, as befits the sombre nature of the moment it commemorates.”
Caroline Crampton, New Statesman ,10/9/2014
“It is a miraculous piece: Tavener seems to have found a new eloquence”
Roderic Dunnett, Church Times,10/3/2014
"Requiem Fragments lays out a lighter lustre of exquisite vocals, falling silences and upwardly moving instrumentation.They quickly form, turn inward and curl outward to reveal deep lines of introspection, created by Tavener with the slightest of deep touches in he score."
Peter Lindley, Morning Star,8/13/2014
Tavener, who died last year aged 69, was prolific until the end. The posthumous world premiere of his Requiem Fragments (2013) had not seemed likely to yield anything new. Instead it could hardly have been more striking or original. Taking words from the Requiem mass and Hindu sources, it is scored for string quartet and two trombones as well as voices. The music works quietly through "flat" keys except at moments of radiance, as in the Sanctus (marked "An explosion of joy and bliss"), when sharps and double sharps take over and the harmony expands as if pushing ever outward towards light. A soprano line, serenely sung by Carolyn Sampson, floats ethereally over the choir, who at times sing in gently ricocheting 12 parts, creating a buoyant continuum of sound. If this was Tavener's vision of eternity, we should envy him.
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer,8/10/2014
"inspired by a motet by the Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez. Recondite though this might sound, in Tavener's hands the effect is magical." [...] "The result reached a level of sheer sonic beauty rarely achieved in contemporary music."
George Hall, The Guradian,8/5/2014
"proves itself to be the composer’s late masterpiece."
John Allison, Telegraph ,8/5/2014
"Tavener's use of formal trombones like a godly call from on high, a string quartet speaking quietly like an inner voice, and the choir settling on harmonies of resigned acceptance, all add up to a palpable feeling of leave-taking. At the end the music hangs in the air, as if looking out into eternity. There was no need for the BBC's brief, candlelit first world war tribute afterwards, tacked on like an awkward afterthought. Tavener had already said it all."
Richard Fairman, Finacial Times,8/5/2014
"Far from becoming feebler as he faded, Tavener crystallised his style so that Requiem Fragments seems to fuse a lifetime's preoccupations: with gorgeous tonal harmonies that suddenly spread into radient clusters, with tranquillity, repetition, drones and ancient polyphony."
Richard Morrison, The Times,8/4/2014
"Much of this has an intense, intimate beauty that somehow enveloped the vast confines of the Royal Albert Hall."
Nick Breckenfield, Classical Source,8/4/2014
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