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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Cantus Mysticus (2004)
Commissioned by The Foundation for the Cuenca Religious Music Week
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
7 Minutes
soprano, clarinet

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Programme Note
John Tavener Cantus Mysticus (2004)
Cantus Mysticus sets a text by Goethe concerned with the Eternal Feminine: Das ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan (The Eternal Woman draws us upwards). Many of my recent works have been concerned with meditation on the Creative Feminine which, according to esoteric metaphysics, reveals the ‘child of the soul’, and thus God.

The slow, contemplative and very intense opening of Cantus Mysticus leads gradually towards a ‘still centre’, with much use of ‘silence’. This is followed by an ecstatic celebration of the Divine Feminine - the Virgine Madre of Dante and Christianity, the Maha Maya of Hinduism, and Maha Prajavati of Buddhism. The Jazz-style passages for clarinet express Lîla, or Divine Play.

Cantus Mysticus is scored for B flat clarinet, soprano and strings (violins and cellos only).

John Tavener

Preview the score:

...the score still has the power to surprise in its mix of austere spiritual reflection and spouting energy, and in its combination of speech and sung texts
Geoffrey Norris, The Daily Telegraph,29/08/2008
...calm followed by exuberence - a welcome return to brief simplicity
Erica Jeal, The Guardian,29/08/2008
The music of British [Tavener] demonstrates an exquisite, meditative, intellectual, ethereal, delicate and elegant synthesis of writing…on a text by Goethe alluding to the eternal femininity partly suspended, partly contemplative and partly profound, he [Tavener] combines the appealing timbres of voice, orchestra and solo clarinet in an outstanding combination.
Marco de la Ossa, Tribuna de Cuenca ,25/03/2005
Beautiful music and well constructed…Cantus Mysticus for soprano, clarinet and orchestra, connected well with the devoted audience… Tavener satisfies his audience, above all, because he knows his profession and writes with sincerity.
Justo Romero, El Mundo ,24/03/2005
With the premiere of this work [Cantus Mysticus], Tavener has shown he is the true master of sacred music.
Musica Sacra,22/03/2005
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