• John Tavener
  • Lamentations and Praises (2000)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Chanticleer, the Handel and Haydn Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and funded by Mrs Paul L. Wattis and the Carlyle Fund

  • fl/btbn/timp.perc(Byzantine monastery bell,very large Tibetan temple bowl,very large tam,tbells,simantron)/str(
  • 4Ct.4T.2Bar.2B
  • 1 hr 10 min
  • Traditional
  • English

Programme Note

The 'Production' must be as simple, and as stylized as possible. The 'costumes' should be ikonographical. There should be a wooden cross in one place (Golgotha), an anointing stone in another, and perhaps not a tomb but a place of entrance into which the people process into and process out of.

In order of events: firstly, all the singers, musicians etc. should process slowly and solemnly into the church, taking up their various positions - all in silence. The singers/mimes should move to Golgotha to the simple wooden cross. During 'The Descent from the Cross' (with no-one actually on it), singers/mimes should stretch forth their hands and arms, the 'women' should cover their faces etc. all in a highly stylized manner, as still as possible. This action will take place every time that 'The Descent from the Cross' is shown, but only in front of the cross the first time. Then after 'The Descent' all prostrate fully in front of the unseen dead Christ. All gestures and mimes should be taken from the relevant ikons - very, very still and like a Greek 'frieze'. Then follows Stasis I, before the dead Christ - 'O Life, how can You die? - 'Lo, how fain His beauty, Never man was so fain...' etc. In between the verses there should be bowing and prostrating before the dead Christ. Then follows the formal Lament in front of the Dead God - using the ancient Greek formal lamenting "otmoi" - then either an actual 'Epitaphios' or a wooden plank with a cross on it representing the dead Christ should be hoisted over the shoulders of the singers/mimes. The procession to the Anointing Stone should be totally without emotion, again like a Greek frieze or Ikon. A kind of ancient Greek urn with incense should be carried with the procession. 'Give me this stranger, give me this naked one, Give me this corpse, give me this stranger, who being a stranger in this world, has nowhere to lay His Head...'.

This is the 'pattern' for the whole piece. But after the third Stasis, the procession should emerge without the Epitaphios. The descent into Hades where 9 singers/mimes watch three singers/mimes, Christ and Adam and Eve - Christ, with hands down-stretched (also very still) pulling Adam and Eve (with hands out-stretched) out of Hades (The Resurrection Ikon). The building 'becomes' the vaults of Heaven and Hell, as the choir of Angels, Archangels etc (pre-recorded tape) fill the building with the sound 'RISEN.' After this, all singers/mimes/musicians etc process totally objectively (as at the beginning) out of the church.

This is a very basic conception, but it needs a very basic concept with no extension fuss or dross. It is like 'a sequence of Ikons' with a 'corridor of music', and the events 'heard' and 'seen' are so full of 'gladdening sorrow' that no-one should dare to add anything.

Glory to You O Christ God, Glory to You.

John Tavener


Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : II Stasis I
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : III "Wherewithal shall a young man..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : IV Thrinos I
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : VI The Descent from the Cross II
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : VII Stasis II
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : VIII "Let now your mercy..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : IX "Your hands have made me..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : X Thrinos II
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XI Epitaphios [Procession II - To the Tomb Entrance]
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XII The Descent from the Cross III
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XIII Stasis III
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XIV "Princes have persecuted me..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XV "I awaited Lord, your salvation..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XVI "Look upon me and have mercy..."
Tavener : Lamentations and Praises : XVII Thrinos III
Tavener: Lamentations and Praises: XVIII. Procession into Hadës (into the Tomb)
Tavener: Lamentations and Praises: XIX. Resurrection in Hadës