Classical Music: Diary


The Independent – United Kingdom
Feb 07, 2005

Michael Church

V “I didn’t try to make it; it came from inside me,” says Sir John
Tavener of his The Veil of the Temple, designed to last from dusk
till dawn in church and 150-minutes long on the new RCA Red Seal/Sony
CD released next Monday. Starting with Sufism and ending among the
Hindus, it reveals the Blessed John in unprecedentedly ecumenical
form, but I’m reassured to find his prejudices still intact. When
I ask what he means by this being “an attempt to restore the sacred
imagination”, he replies: “It’s about a dimension in art which has
got totally lost. When humanism came in with late Beethoven, art
for art’s sake became the goal, leading to things like the artist
currently exhibiting his own excrement in the Tate.”

V Who is Armenia’s greatest composer? Not Khachaturian, despite the
Soviets’ relentless promotion of Spartacus. Few outside Armenia may
have heard of Solomon Solomonian, but his fate encapsulates that
of his country, and his compositions have a uniquely compelling
force. In 1915, with 700 other Armenian intellectuals, he was seized
and tortured by the Turks; he escaped, but went mad, and he died
in a Paris asylum. He’s the subject of a suitably left-field film
at the London Armenian Film Festival, which opens on Friday at the
Institut Francais.

V The Takacs Quartet’s recordings of Beethoven’s string quartets
are being justly acclaimed, but readers of the liner notes may
wonder why none of the players is called Takacs. The ghost is Gabor
Takacs-Nagy, who co-founded the quartet, but left and now leads his
equally acclaimed Takacs Piano Trio. But it’s a shame Decca should
be so economical with the truth.