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Sacred Songs of Russia
Gloria Dei Cantores
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1. Hristos Voskrese; Kastal
2. Blagoslovi, Dushe; Chesnokov
3. Bogoroditse Devo; Rachmaninoff
4. Bogoroditse Devo; Sviridov
6. Pokayanniy Stih; Sviridov
7. Ghospodi vozzvah; Znamenny chant
8. Beznevestnaya Devo; Titov
9. Slava vo vishnih Bogu; Bortniansky
10. Cherubic Hymn; Glinka
12. Angel vopiyashe; Tchaikovsky
13. Hymn in honor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius; Tchaikovsky
14. O Tebe raduyestia; Smolensky
15. Svete tihiy; Kastal
16. Hvalite imia Ghospodne; Chesnokov
17. V molitvah neusipayushchuyu Bogoroditsu; Rachmaninoff
18. Litany of Supplication; Arkhangel
19. Otche Nash; Kedrov
A collection of a broad range of Russian liturgical hymnology, as presented by Gloria Dei Cantores when they toured Russia by invitation of Metropolitan (now Patriarch) Aleksy of Russia. Music on this type of CD usually has one of three formats: stylistic survey, liturgical service or concert. The survey is invaluable for musical and historical interest, but tends to suffer from sameness, even when it represents a complete service, as with many of the excellent Grindenko recordings. In the service format a recording can be rough, crude and difficult to hear, but it has the thrill of a real performance recorded live at a real service, which is the point of the music after all. At some point, this is how the music should be heard. This CD is in concert format, which presents pieces of high artistic value, usually of different styles for variety, in an appealing and interesting manner. Such programs are how we usually first come to a genre. Success depends on the specific program, and this program is a good one: big opener, then working into the more meditative and heartfelt; then a great variety with highs and lows ending on the warmly interior Kedrov Our Father. The composers are mostly the 'celebrities' of the genre, whose work set the standards: well-known secular composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, plus heroes of the corpus across the centuries such as Titov, Bortniansky, Archangelsky, Kastalsky, Kedrov. Sviridov is a pleasant surprise: insufficiently known in Russia, and even less well known in the west, he and his music deserve to be heard more. There are both well known and nearly unknown pieces here, and all of them worth hearing.
This performance has that attention to detail and control characteristic of intelligent execution of Russian music by non-Russians. The performance also reaches through to the spirit of the music so it sounds like what it was meant to be. Very satisfying both musically and intellectually, this recording effectively communicates the tradition to the listener. The sound levels are quite low on this recording, and the range of volume is broad, so it can be difficult to hear the soft parts if the background is noisy. Be sure to listen at least once in a quiet place. The notes are outstanding. A few sure strokes give plenty of background on the piece and the composer, and the work is tied into the wider context of the genre. Texts are included?a rarity in itself?in both English and Slavonic for all selections, in a transcription accessible to anyone. This type of music works so closely with the texts that it is crucial to have them, but so few recordings do. This in itself is a reason to add this CD to your library, for the selections contain many of the texts that are most often set to music. Highly recommended as an introduction to the genre, as a first-class performance of these pieces, and for the texts and notes.
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