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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Mahashakti (2003)
Commissioned by the Megaron Concert Hall, Athens
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
John Tavener Mahashakti (2003)
The Sanskrit word Shakti signifies a celestial Feminine Energy that allows man to enter into contact with the Divine, by aiding and attracting. She aids as Mother and attracts as Virgin. Although Shakti is a Hindu concept, Shaktism clearly has a universal significance, since the concept of the Eternal Feminine is present in all great and primordial traditions. According to Hindu metaphysics, the Mahāshakti is the supreme Shakti, and only through her can man aspire to the infinite.

The solo violin represents both Shakti and Mahāshakti, and should express in its playing (as should the strings), both ecstatic and contemplative qualities. The music is both rapturous and hieratical - rapturous in the passionate and gentle lines, and hieratical in the ritual striking of the very large tam-tam, which should sound from the centre of the platform. The tam-tam should never dominate, but rather, the solo violin and strings should reverberate from its sounds.

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
    Ruth Palmer, violin; Josephine Knight, cello; Elin Manaha Thomas, soprano; Andrew Kennedy, tenor
    Vasily Petrenko
    EMI Classics:
  • 24 JAN 2012
    Mahashakti Country Premiere
    Maison de la Culture Clermont Ferrand, FRANCE
    Orchestre d'Auvergne
    Laurent Korcia (violin); Roberto Fores Veses, conductor
  • 28 MAY 2005
    Mahashakti World Premiere
    The Megaron, Athens
    Athens Camerata
    Leonidas Kavakos

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