John Tavener's The Martydom Of Saint Stephen for Solo Horn, Double SATB Choir and Organ.
Commissioned by the Metropolitan and Cathedral Chapter of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna.
First performed on 16th March 2015 at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, by the Cathedral Choir conducted by Markus Landerer.
Vienna's iconic gothic cathedral is dedicated to the first Christian martyr and the Metropolitan and Chapter chose with discrimination and imagination when they asked John Tavener to write this work, setting the account of the stoning of St Stephen from the Acts of the Apostles. The choral writing is far from difficult, and rich double-choir effects from staggered entries singing the same music creates an impressive sense of the numinous. Tavener fans will not be surprised that the composer suggests that extra male voices might be required. The virtuoso horn part, marked 'ferocious - wild and violent', is directed to be played from a gallery and suggests the hail of stones and hatred directed at the saint. The organ mostly offers brief interjections and chordal support until the last 18 bars, a lullaby(?) for the saint who 'fell asleep in the Lord' as he was being stoned. John himself went to his final sleep not long after composing this majestic work: Eternal memory! - Organists' Review