Ikon of Eros, version for soprano, baritone, solo violin, orchestra & choir
- John Tavener in interview with Brian Newhouse (10:46)
John Tavener: Ikon of Erosby Minnesota Orchestra, Rosario, Krol, Goodwin
Springing from Greek Orthodox chant, east Asian dances, and late-Romantic orchestral textures, "Ikon of Eros" is a kind of reconciliation between the sacred and secular musical worlds, both of which have nurtured John Tavener's art. At the heart of this ambitious work is the ecstatic solo violin, which soars above the chorus and orchestra. Commissioned for violinist Jorja Fleezanis, "Ikon of Eros" is not a concerto, though its demands on the performer are nothing short of virtuosic, especially in terms of control and endurance. Fleezanis plays almost continuously, and her part is like a never-ending song that is most often situated in the upper octaves. Perhaps pointedly, the violin moves in tandem with soprano Patricia Rozario's rapturous vocal line in the almost operatic second movement, making the song connection explicit. Baritone Tim Krol is assigned the incantory role of a psaltist, intoning his ornamented melodies with the choral declamations and drones on the words Metemorphóthes, Éros, Ékstasis, and Allilúia. The Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale, directed by Paul Goodwin, are mostly static throughout, and their slow harmonic rhythm is clearly intended to suggest the stillness of icons. Following the piece is an interview Tavener gave to Minnesota Public Radio, outlining his intentions and the sources of his inspiration.
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This is definitely one of the most incredible pieces I have ever heard. It is rather unusual at times, but refreshingly so. I could feel that Tavener had really captured something in his music that many composers fail to, and it was breathtakingly executed by the Minnesota Orchestra, with Concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis on violin. Her confidence and pure emotion were evident throughout. I have seen her play with the orchestra at Orchestra hall, Minneapolis, and I truly beleive that she is one of the most talented violinists in the country. This piece was commissioned for her, and she deserved it. The performance venue also played a significant role in this piece. The Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, Minnesota, added an ethereal element to the music. i disagree with anyone who says that the music is insufferably repetitive, because the liner notes tells us that Tavener intended for the music to symbolize the never-ending quest for Divine Love and a longing for God, and once you hear just a few minutes of it, you won't mind hearing it again! This music is haunting and powerful, a must for any music-lover.