live BT Scottish Ensemble Hellenic Centre, London

Time has a way of moving on, even in the case of music that claims to lie beyond its ever rolling stream. Tavener, Part and Gorecki, minimalist masters of the unruffled Adagio, have enjoyed a lower profile of late. That may be just a false impression or a lull in publicity, or a sign that fashion has overtaken them. Only time will tell.

But whatever the truth of the matter, like all other composers they go on writing new works while their old ones find a place in the annals of recent musical history. John Tavener, from his early successes such as The Whale to his Slavic-toned Akhmatova Requiem of 1980 to his latest score, Tears of the Angels, premiered on Wednesday, has left his mark on several more strata than most. In addition, 20th-century British music is not his only sphere of influence. Reflecting the composer's enduring love of Greece, the new piece was first heard at London's Hellenic Centre on Wednesday. Yet another recent work and one of his darkest and tersest, Feast of Feasts, was commissioned for Lebanon's Al Bhustan Festival, and received its UK premiere on 4 June at the QEH, sung by Russia's legendary State Academic Choir.

Tears of the Angels, as it happens, is also dedicated "to the suffering people of Bosnia". This is not the first piece of the present decade to carry such a motto; but it is probably among the sincerest. To write "I grieve" across an artistic canvas and assume it to be a sufficient condition of feeling is nothing new. From Tavener, however, one rightfully expects a great deal more than the mere emblems of compassion.

And the new piece, intimate in rhetoric and emotion, does not disappoint. Tavener asks it to be played at the extreme breaking point of tenderness - beyond our compassion and beyond our comprehension. True, we might think those words refer to our numbed reaction to the brutality of Bosnia's inhabitants. But the hushed aura of the BT Ensemble's muted strings, Clio Gould's birdlike trills soaring into the violin's stratosphere, at once made it clear that, in Tears of the Angels, the composer relates God and suffering as a theological issue. Fortunately, as in Bach or Messiaen, theology can be sidestepped. And in its simple means - raw, chant-like material set in a plain, symmetrical form - Tavener has created a moving elegy. It transcends its place and, yes, its time, but only in the sense that art always does: by changing the particular into the universal.

There was something no less elegant about Vladimir Godar's Barcarolle, and no less simple yet elegant in its solution to the problems of ultra- slow music that also fits into an articulate pattern. Julian Lloyd Webber commissioned it after hearing Godar's oratorio Orbis sensualium pictus at the 1992 Prague Spring Festival. His reading on Wednesday was another world premiere at the Hellenic Centre, and it drew strength from all the virtues of his playing: sensuous legato and charmed phrasing in the cello's highest register. There were, in essence, only two chords, changing unpredictably like a catch in the voice. Part, in his Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, uses only one, but for a minimalist classic, one is enough. The BT Scottish Ensemble gave an atmospheric account, complete with the tolling of a rather flawed bell.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before