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Cn245b CHESNOKOV ~ We Hymn Thee (Tebe poyem) satb $1.95
“We hymn Thee” is one of those sublime choral miniatures that testifies, yet once more, why, next to Rachmaninoff, Chesnokov is the most oft-performed composer of Russian sacred music. Chesnokov’s simple, yet profound music makes it easy to interpret the expression marking “with great feeling.” This piece is highly accessible to choirs of all levels, because it has no great extremes of range and because the text is short and straightforward.
Go017 GOLOVANOV ~ Glory...Only Begotten Son (Slava...Yedinorodniy Sïne) satb(div) $2.45
Golovanov (1891-1953) was one of the last composers to publish sacred Russian Orthodox music before the Communist revolution of 1917 effectively shut down all religious composition and performance for 75 years. His interpretation of this ancient Christian text dating from the 4th century uses a complex harmonic palette and dynamic extremes to express the mystery and power of the Incarnation and Resurrection, ending with a forceful cry for salvation and help.
Iv001 IVANOV-RADKEVICH ~ Gladsome Light (Svete tihiy) satb $2.45
Ivanov-Radkevich (1878-1942) was a graduate of the Imperial Court Chapel Choir School who dedicated his life to music education and other musical activity in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. His “Gladsome Light” is written in a style reminiscent of the “new Russian choral school,” employing chant-like motives and texture contrasts to express the serene majesty of this ancient Christian text. This is an extremely effective piece for a large choir.
Ks024 KASTALSKY ~ As Many As Have Been Baptized (Yelitsï vo Hrista) satb(div) $1.95
In this solemnly joyful baptismal anthem Kastalsky uses an ancient znamenny chant melody and demonstrates why he is the acknowledged master of “choral orchestration”: at every repetition of the melody, the voicing and texture changes, as does the color of the sonority. (This piece is recorded on Conspirare’s Grammy-winning CD, The Sacred Spirit of Russia, cat. No. C122.)
Ks161 KASTALSKY ~ Give Rest O Our Savior (Pokoy Spase nash), No. 3 from Memory Eternal (Requiem) satb(div) $2.45
Conceived in the early days of World War I and published in its a cappella form in early 1917, Kastalsky’s Requiem, Memory Eternal for the Fallen Heroes (cat. No. Ks-Req) is a major masterpiece that has yet to be discovered either in Russia or world-wide. Kastalsky was the master trend-setter of the “new Russian choral school,” whose work shaped the compositions of Chesnokov, Gretchaninoff, Nikolsky, and Rachmaninoff. This sublime excerpt from his Requiem show how he uses chants and chant-derived melodies to build choral textures of vivid color and great expressive power.
Ks164 KASTALSKY ~ With the Saints Give Rest (So sviatïmi upokoy) No. 6 from Memory Eternal (Requiem) satb(div) $1.95
This famous Kontakion from the Orthodox Memorial Service is a well-known fixture in many non-Orthodox church hymnals. In this arrangement from his Requiem, Memory Eternal for the Fallen Heroes (cat. No. Ks-Req), Kastalsky shows himself to be a master of choral color, leading the way for the other composers of the “new Russian choral school.”
Ks165 KASTALSKY ~ Thou Alone Art Immortal (Sam Yedin yesi Bessmertniy) No. 7 from Memory Eternal (Requiem) satb(div) $2.45
Although it can be sung separately, “Thou Alone Art Immortal” is typically sung immediately after the Kontakion “With the Saints Give Rest,” since this is the way these two hymns are positioned in the Orthodox Memorial Service; “Thou Alone” is, in fact, a continuation of “With the Saints Give Rest.” Kastalsky’s intent was to create a Requiem that included melodies of all the Allies in World War I—primarily among them, Russia, France, and England. Thus he included in this movement the famous motif Dies irae from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, which has no direct counterpart in the Orthodox service. (Recorded by
Ni035 NIKOLSKY ~ Praise the Name of the Lord (Hvalite imia Ghospodne) satb(div) $1.95
The singing of these verses from Psalms 134 and 135 is the most majestic and grand moment in the Orthodox All-Night Vigil. Alexander Nikolsky’s (1874–1943) setting, with its opening fanfares, and rich choral orchestration, is one of the most festive in the Russian choral literature of the early 20th century. It foreshadows the setting of this same text in Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, written a few years later
Ni056 NIKOLSKY ~ O Lord, Our Lord (Ghospodi Ghospod’ nash) satb (div) $2.45
Alexander Nikolsky sets the text of Psalm 8 in bold strokes, alternately using elements of call and response between solo and chorus, choral recitation, and arioso-like passages with choral accompaniment. A brilliant choral orchestrator, Nikolsky is one of the members of the “new Russian choral school” whose works have yet to garner well-deserved acclaim, even a hundred years after their composition. This is compelling, text-based music that calls forth powerful choral singing!
St-PW03 STEINBERG ~ Thy Bridal Chamber (Chertog Tvoy) satb(div) $1.95
One of the most sublime excerpts from Maximilian Steinberg’s long lost Passion Week, op. 13, composed in 1921–1923 and premiered only in 2014, this hymn is the exalted penitent cry of a soul that beholds the splendor of Heaven, but realizes that it is unworthy to enter. The solemn chant melody is sung by the basses over a shimmering texture in the upper voices, depicting the contrast between the heavenly and earthly realm. (The full score of Steinberg’s Passion Week is available from Musica Russica, cat. No. St-PW.)
St-PW08 STEINBERG ~ The Wise Thief (Razboynika blagorazumnago) satb(div) $1.95
Maximilian Steinberg based every movement of his Passion Week on pre-existing chants, except for this one, for which he composed his own, chant-like melody. As is every movement of his monumental work, heard now for the first time, ninety years after its composition in the early 1920s, a great mystery is musically expressed: the promise of paradise made by Christ to the thief on his right hand. (The full score of Steinberg’s Passion Week is available from Musica Russica, cat. No. St-PW.)
—Notes by Vladimir Morosan