John Tavener (1944-2013) est un compositeur britannique.
"’I’d heard her voice...it was quite a raw, primordial sound, and I was very attracted to this sound. I thought of the ejaculatory prayer called the ’Jesus Prayer’— ’Lord Jesus, have mercy on me’—and I set it in three languages : Coptic, in English, and in Greek. I thought the way she sang it was quite wonderful, and it couldn’t possibly be sing by anybody else but her, or someone with a voice very, very similar to hers. It had nothing of a western-trained voice about it. In fact, it wasn’t trained at all, and this is why I liked it so much, because...it had a save quality, an untamed quality. These are qualities that I like...I liked the simplicity of her, I liked the spontaneity of her, and I liked the result that came forth in Prayer of the Heart.’"
John Tavener has actually written a piece for you, and you’ve collaborated with him.
Yeah, I almost blush. I think it might have been Brodsky’s idea, or something - Brodsky’s Quartet [sic], which I was working with a lot, and I was telling them how much I liked this piece. And they were saying, ’Oh, why don’t we just ask him’, and I was like [sharp intake of breath] - you don’t just do that, you know - and so, yeah, we recorded it - it’s not out yet - it’s a prayer of the heart ; he based it on a monk he saw in India that had been meditating for so long that his body was dead and they were going to bury him or something, but then they figured out that he was in such a euphoric state that his body didn’t matter any more. And he based a piece on that, so it’s very, very pure.
- And you just sang it ? Or did you contribute more than that ?
I just sang it. But it was incredible for me, something I’ve never experienced before, that someone who’s obviously a good composer would check out my range, my vocal range...
- So he’d listen to your records ?
Yeah, and he had to work out - I felt like a gun in somebody’s hand - he had to work out my range, what I could do, and then just threw this song through me. And you’re just like a tool.
- And was it what you’d expected ?
Yeah, I guess it was already fifty times more than I already had dreamed of, the whole thing was quite magical…we would spend some times together and have some dinners…he’s really into some pretty full-on debates about the small things in life, like death and religion and love...