A co-commission of the LPO and London's Southbank Centre, Lalishri is inspired by the 14th-century Hindu saint and poet, Lalla Yogishwari. "Her poetry with its combination of intensity and simplicity made me think of the 'innocent intensity' of Nicola Benedetti's playing," explains Tavener in an online program note from his publisher, Chester Novello. "Indeed the solo violin represents the song of Lalla. When Lalla discovered ATMA or the true SELF (which is none other than God inside her) she danced naked throughout Kashmir. This spiritual nakedness manifests itself in bodily nakedness." (Benedetti will perform fully clothed, however.)
The five-section piece moves from "dance, ecstatic trance to a musical expression of Bliss," adds the composer.
Andrew Litton conducts Benedetti and the London Philharmonic in tonight's premiere at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre. Also on the program are Elgar's Symphony No. 2 and Vaughan Williams's The Wasps.
Benedetti, Litton and LPO recorded the concerto earlier this year for Deutsche Grammophon; the disc also includes Tavener's Dhyana and an arrangement for solo violin and strings of his Song for Athene (made world-famous worldwide at the funeral of Princess Diana) as well as The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Lalishri is released this week in the U.K; a U.S. release is scheduled for early 2008, according to Universal Classics, though the title will be available as an import via Amazon.com and other online stores as of October 3.