Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

ALLA BREVE

May 16, 1993|JOHN HENKEN

JOHN TAVENER: "Mary of Egypt." Patricia Rozario, Stephen Varcoe, Chloe Goodchild; Lionel Friend, conducting the Choristers of Ely Cathedral, the Britten-Pears Chamber Choir and Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble. Collins Classics 70232. This two-disc set preserves the premiere production of Tavener's "icon in music and dance" from the 1992 Aldeburgh Festival, plus a pertinent 14-minute interview with the composer. Tavener prefers to think of the five-act piece as a "living icon" rather than an opera, but in sounds and textures as well as spirit it conjures up classic modern performances of medieval chant dramas.

The vocal lines shift easily between declamation and melismatic, micro-tonally bent raptures. Rozario's slender soprano proves flexible enough in the title role for the sensual moans of the first act whore and the rapt prayers of the desert mystic, 47 years older in Act III. Varcoe matched her in reedy, lyric point as Zossima, the abstracted monk whose love was all theory rather than practice. The chorus gets to make aggressive noises, accompanied by whomping Orffian percussion as the Swine men and women in Act I.

Generally the orchestration is sparse--Mary always linked with flute, Zossima with percussion and trombone--although Act IV is a sequence of mimed episodes featuring more extrovert scoring, delivered with great verve and color here.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|