John Tavener



Svyátuiee Bózhyea / Holy God.

Svyátuiee Kryéapkeeee / Holy and Strong.

Svyátuiee Byeazsmyéartnuiee / Holy and Immortal.

Pomélooee nas / Have mercy upon us.


"I began to write Svyati in early 1995: while sketching it, I Iearned that John Williams, father of Jane, my dear friend and publisher, was dying. I could not refrain from dedicating it to Jane and to the memory of her father. 

The text is in Church Slavonic, and it is used at almost every Russian Orthodox service, perhaps most poignantly after the congregation have kissed the body in an open coffin at an Orthodox funeral. The choir sings as the coffin is closed and borne out of the church, followed by the mourners with lighted candles. The cello represents the Priest or Ikon of Christ, and should play at a distance from the choir, perhaps at the opposite end of the building. As in Greek drama, choir and priest are in dialogue with each other. Since the cello represents the Ikon of Christ, it must be played without any sentiment of a Western character, but should derive from the chanting of the Eastern Orthodox Church."

- program notes by Tavener



Richard Rodney Bennett



The helmet now an hive for bees becomes,
And hilts of swords may serve for spiders' looms;
     Sharp pikes may make
     Teeth for a rake;
And the keen blade, th'arch enemy of life,
Shall be degraded to a pruning knife.
     The rustic spade
     Which first was made
For honest agriculture, shall retake
Its primitive employment, and forsake
     The rampires steep
     And trenches deep.
Tame conies in our brazen guns shall breed,
Or gentle doves their young ones there shall feed.
     In musket barrels
     Mice shall raise quarrels
For their quarters.  The ventriloquious drum,
Like lawyers in vacations, shall be dumb.
     Now all recruits,
     But those of fruits,
Shall be forgot; and th'unarmed soldier
Shall only boast of what he did whilere,
     In chimneys' ends
     Among his friends.

- Ralph Knevet (1600-1671)


 His golden locks time hath

to silver turned

O time too swift,

o swiftness never ceasing!

His youth ‘gainst time and age

 hath ever spurned,

But spurned in vain,

youth waneth by increasing

Beauty, strength, youth

are flow’rs but fading seen,

Duty, faith, love are roots and ever green

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees,

And lovers’ sonets turn to holy psalms

A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,

And feed on prayers which are age’s alms

But though from Court to cottage he depart,

His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart

And when he saddest sits

 in homely cell,

He’ll teach his swains this carol for a song,

Blest be the hearts

that wish my Sovereign well,

Curst be the soul

that thinks her any wrong

Goddess, allow this aged man his right,

To be your beadsman

now that was your knight


George Peele (1558?-1597?)



Rudi Tas


(1957- )

"At the start of Belgian composer Rudi Tas' haunting setting of the Miserere, a solo cello rises out of a vocal cluster. The music gradually becomes more intense; the voices plead for mercy. The work ends with a fading vocal cluster that reveals the solo cello's high E." - G. Schirmer, Inc.


Knut Nystedt




Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt’s setting of the sacred Stabat Mater text was composed for Musikkfestivalen i Ålesund, Norway in 1987. The structure of the piece combines both strophic and through-composed material, which means that it uses virtuosic cello “cadenzas” to link together repeating choral verses and melodies.



Pēteris Vasks


(1946- )

“Because it has given me so many unique and joyous moments, the natural beauty of Latvia has been the stimulus for much of my work.

The flatlands are one of the dominant features of Latvian landscape, a place where you can see the horizon and observe the starlit sky.

Plainscapes is constructed of three vocalises, which are separated by small interludes. The underlying text is merely a suggestion, and can be changed to suit the individual. The dynamic of this diatonic, meditative composition remains almost exclusively piano, however, at the end of the third vocalist, the character changes. An increasing crescendo leads to the climax-to the vision of nature’s awakening.”

- Pēteris Vasks