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Boston Byzantine Choir
Boston Byzantine Choir
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1. O Lord, I Have Cried
2. Moses the Great
3. Hymn of the Three Youths
4. Arise, O God
5. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
6. All Creation Rejoices In Thee
7. The Lord Awoke
8. Behold the Dawn
9. Come, Receive Ye Light
10. Angels in the Heavens
11. Second Matinal Gospel
12. Christ Is Risen
13. The Opening of the Doors
14. The Paschal Canon, Ode One
15. When They Who Were With Mary
16. Though Thou Didst Descend
17. The Paschal Canon, Odes 3-8
18. The Paschal Canon, Ode 9
19. Troparia After Each Ode of the Canon
20. When Thou Hadst Fallen Asleep
21. The Homily of Saint John Chrysostom
22. Grace, Shining Forth
23. The Paschal Verses
24. In the Gathering Places
25. Partake Ye of the Body of Christ
26. The Stichera of Pascha
27. This Is the Day of Resurrection
28. This Is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made
PASCHA-The Feast of Feasts. The Festival of Festivals. No other day in the Orthodox calendar is celebrated with such majesty and splendor. The Paschal troparion, sung many times by the Church on the Eve of the Feast and throughout the Paschal Season until the Feast of the Ascension, explains her joy: ?Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. The bright sadness of Holy Week presented on the previous disc by the Boston Byzantine Choir (Thy Passion) is transformed on Holy Saturday morning to unwaning light during the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil. Anticipation and wonder are translated to exuberance and culminate in the Paschal Vigil and Liturgy. On this fourth recording marking the Boston Byzantine Choir's 15th year, the Orthodox Paschal journey from death to resurrection, from the vigil at the darkened tomb to the sublime and radiant light of the angel at the empty tomb of the Risen Christ, is expressed through the Church's unique hymns and services. The joyful exclamations of ?Christ is risen??expressed most eloquently and passionately in the homily of St. John Chrysostom "reverberate throughout the night and well into the morning. It cannot be explained" it must be experienced. Liner notes in English with complete hymn text.
As you would expect, Boston Byzantine Choir under the direction of Charles Marge has matured over the past twelve years, since their first recording (First Fruits). In addition, their knowledge and expression of Byzantine chant, reflecting its ?eastern? compositional and music form, has continued to develop. This recording clearly builds on the foundational elements of the previous three recordings, and delivers a new expression and musical experience. While on the one hand this recording, Thy Resurrection is the natural follow on to the last (Thy Passion), on the other hand it presents a different musical feeling?that which you would expect to be associated with the most important liturgical feast of the year. It is quite easy to talk about the ?bright sadness? that is supposed to characterize Holy Week and Pascha; it is something else again to deliver it. The choir?s voices have matured to include bright tenor and sonorous bass voices, as well as crystal clear sopranos and altos. As a whole all the hymns are both familiar and sound superb?and some stand out as striking. For instance, from the Holy Saturday services: the antiphonal counterpoint in ?The Hymn of the Three Youths;? the selected arrangement of ?Arise, O God? which almost gives you goose bumps; the solemn majesty delivered in ?Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence;? or the evocative presentation of ?All Creation Rejoices in Thee,? sung by Michelle Mabardy based on a version of Met. Germanos Shehadi and arranged by Michael Hilko. All this before we get to the Resurrectional Matins and Paschal Divine Liturgy! All the hymns from those services are well done, but as we move from ?The Lord Awoke? to ?Angels in Heaven,? the majesty builds and the brightness begins to really come through. The Gospel is gloriously sung by Fr. Antony Hughes, and is uniquely coupled with a delicate ison from the choir to end each sentence. The Paschal Canon is a treat, using the version from Holy Transfiguration Monastery: Odes One, and Three to Nine are done in very traditional form, but the Hypakoe and Kontakion between One and Three provide wondrous counterpoint. ?Christ is Risen!? is sung in at least seven languages, and The Paschal Verses, using Fr. James Meena?s arrangement, just come to life. Included is the Homily of St. John Chrysostom, and the service reaches it?s pinnacle with the Communion Hymn, and the Stichera of Pascha, but the recording reaches it?s climax (in my view) with the last hymn, ?This is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made,? with brilliant counterpoint of high female and deep male voices that then superbly blend together to make this transcendent proclamation. In sum, this recording has the unique sound that has come to characterize this choir, but also delivers a special blend of English accessibility coupled with traditional ephos.
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