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The Independent Culture
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.