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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1991)
commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
20 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Tavener The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1991)
The Last Sleep of the Virgin was written in 2002 just before I underwent major heart surgery. The eschatalogical character of the music is heightened by the fact that I could barely hear the music. It seemed, so to speak, almost beyond my grasp. To reflect this, the performers are directed to play 'at the threshold of audibility'.

The music is Byzantine in character, being based on the 8 Doxasticon of the Feast of the Dormition. The music, without wordsm enacts the story of the Falling Asleep and burial by the Apostles of The Mother of God.

The Last Sleep of the Virgin has an important part for handbells, bearing much of the basis of the material of this strange - strange to me - meditation on The Last Things.

The Last Sleep of the Virgin was written in homage to Dame Margot Fonteyn, who died in 1991, and is dedicated to the Chilingirian String Quartet.

John Tavener

  • Ensemble
    Chilingirian String Quartet
    Virgin Classics:
  • Ensemble
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Gennadi Roshdenstvensky
    Virgin Classics:
  • Ensemble
    I Fiamminghi
    France Springuel ('cello)
    Rudolf Werthen
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