TAVENER:  Fall and Resurrection
Patricia Rosario, soprano/Michael Chance, counter-tenor/Martin Hills, psaltis/Stephen Richardson, bass/BBC Singers/St. Paul's Cathedral Choir/City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox, cond.

CHANDOS 9800  (F) (DDD) TT:  52:00

I guess the music of Sir John Tavener (b. 1944) is an acquired taste.  Judging from this live concert recording (Jan. 4, 2000) of his Fall and Resurrection, Tavener provides enough sonic adventure to ignite all sorts of passion.  This work is sort of a spiritual microcosm of the world from Adam and Eve to The Resurrection which Tavener calls "musical metaphysics."

Best to overlook the mystical references, which the composer tends to over-expound, and concentrate on his styles and sounds.  The score ranges from a simple monody for flute and solo bass in the Adam and Eve scene to thunderous cacophony at the Crucifixion.  There are occasional Carl Orff-like descending melismatic passages, some tremulant giggles, screaming chatter by the chorus, and a few exquisite solos especially the high angular melodies sung by the counter-tenor.  And the score generally honors and occasionally strengthens the text.

And here lies the problem.  The individual sections of Fall and Resurrection, which are often fun, intriguing, and demanding, fail to add up to a convincing whole.

Withal, the performances by the soloists, especially soprano Patricia Rozario and counter-tenor Michael Chance, are first rate, as are the splendid BBC Singers and St. Paul's Cathedral Choir under conductor Richard Hickox. And the performance sounds splendid in the glorious and spacious acoustics of St. Paul's.  Worth a listen.

K.S. (April 2000)