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Wake Up And Die

By John Tavener

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String Ensemble, Cello
Composed by John Tavener (1944-). Set (Score & Parts). Composed 2002. Chester Music #MUSCH61223. Published by Chester Music (BT.MUSCH61223).

Item Number: BT.MUSCH61223

Work for Solo Cello and Orchestral Cello Section. Premiered by Yo Yo Ma.

Quoting Tavener: It was while pondering these traditional dicta that I began to write the opening solo melody for the cello. It is in fact a palindromebecause waking and dying are like two sides of a piece of paper. If you wake up spiritually, then you will die to all that is not of God. In the middle section, which is also a palindrome, the orchestral cellos join in theparadoxical meditation, providing a platform, as it were, while the cello line takes on a much more melismatic and decorative character.

In fact, the whole work is a series of intellectual contradictions, realised by thesimplest of musical metaphysics. Dying life, life dying, waking up, in order to die, the solo cello always represents the individual mind dying, and the individual mind waking up.

Then, of a sudden, just before the end, thesolo chant begins again, only to be cut off by a distant sentimental memory, the memory of 'the blues', reminding us of ordinary human emotion, and of our fallen state. The very end suggests a waking up into a kind of peace (notsoul slumber, since after death the soul becomes more intensely alive); but we know nothing of that, so the music fades beyond our ears.

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