Jani Christou

1926-1970

Third Period (1959-64)



Christou's third creative period expands and enriches the serial techniques that he had been steadily developing in the preceeding periods into more complex, personal serial system which allowed for greater expression and more organic treatment of his chosen material. He also introduces new compositional techniques and terminologies among them: 'isocrones', the 'continuum' concept and the concept of 'megastatement'.

Tongues of Fire for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra (1964)


"...I consider Tongues of Fire...to be an indisputable masterpiece of the second half of this century" Nicholas Slonimsky

The Pentalcostal Oratorio Tongues of Fire is indisputibly the masterpiece of Christou's third period. It is scored for soloists, chorus and orchestra and was composed in 1964 in response to a commission by the English Bach Festival. The texts used in Tongues of Fire are drawn from the Gospels and The Prophets as well as relevant passages from the Orthodox Mass. Tongues of Fire recreates the anxiety and expectation of the first Christians as they await the miracle of the Pentecost (which is expressed in an unsurpassable and dramatic climax at the end of the work) after the Resurrection.