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Chesnokov: Selected Sacred Works

Pavel Chesnokov

Choir of the Live-Giving Spring
Evgeny Travin
78.48
A142
2018
CD Price: $17.98

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Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944) was the most prolific composer of Russian Orthodox sacred music of his generation, creating several hundred sacred compositions and chant arrangements. Of that vast multitude, some—like “Salvation Is Created,” “Let Thy Good Spirit,” and “Let My Prayer Arise”—are extremely well known, appearing on concert programs, All-State choral festivals (in the United States, of all places!), and numerous recordings. But a great many of Chesnokov’s works remain unknown, which is why this new album by the “Life-Bearing Spring” Choir of Moscow, under Evgeny Travin’s direction, is such a breath of fresh air.
            While it contains several oft-performed works, including the unique “Do Not Reject Me in My Old Age,” for basso profundo solo and chorus (here featuring the renowned Yuri Vishniakov as soloist) and “The Wise Thief,” for tenor solo and men’s chorus, at least three-quarters of the selections are little-known gems from the treasury of Chesnokov’s works. They span the entire range of his oeuvre, from the early opuses 7 and 9, to his latest numbered works, opuses 48 and 50, published around the time of the 1917 revolution, and everything in-between. The selections feature both free compositions in a lush Romantic idiom as well as chant arrangements in a more restrained harmonic style, thus displaying the full range and scope of the composer’s creative gifts.
            Although Chesnokov’s church choir (at the Church of the Holy Trinity on Pokrovka Street in Moscow), for which he composed many of his works, comprised men’s and women’s voices, there is first-hand evidence that Chesnokov favored a sonority that was clear and transparent, as epitomized by the Moscow Synodal Choir of men and boys, wherein he received his training and formulated his ideals of choral sound. By contrast, the 16-voice “Life-Bearing Spring” Choir sings with a full and rich sound, though it is somewhat smaller than the ideally sized choir described by Chesnokov in his pioneering theoretical treatise The Choir and How to Direct It. He writes: To sing music that divides into 8 parts, the properly constituted choir must number no fewer than 27 singers, with a minimum of 3 singers per each voice part (the bass octavists constituting their own section), so that at any given point at least two sustain a vocal line as the third one takes a breath.
One welcomes such new albums, where the still unknown realms of the enormous Russian Orthodox sacred choral repertoire are explored. The booklet contains a succinct and informative essay by musicologist Natalya Plotnikova, in both Russian and English. (This Russian import is available in limited quantities exclusively from Musica Russica.)—V. M.

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TRACK LISTING

No. Composer Title Sheet Music Time Buy
1 Pavel Chesnokov Give rest, O our Savior Op30, no2 3:15
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2 Pavel Chesnokov It is truly fitting Op 7, no3 1:57
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3 Pavel Chesnokov Come, let us bless Joseph Op9,no28 4:43
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4 Pavel Chesnokov Bless the Lord, O my soul Op10,no1 2:16
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5 Pavel Chesnokov All of creation rejoices Op15,no11 Cn081 3:10
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6 Pavel Chesnokov Open to me the doors of repentance Op21a, no2 4:33
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7 Pavel Chesnokov The apostle seeingRejoice O Queen (9th ode Pentecost canon) Op22,no15 2:41
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8 Pavel Chesnokov Let my prayer arise Cn168 5:53
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9 Pavel Chesnokov Let Thy Good Spirit Op25, no10 Cn181 2:43
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10 Pavel Chesnokov Gladsome Light (Kievan chant) Op 27, no3 2:04
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11 Pavel Chesnokov Only begotten son (znamenny chant) Op33, no1 1:53
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12 Pavel Chesnokov Cherubic Hymn (Staro-siminov chant) Op37, no1 6:24
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13 Pavel Chesnokov Let all mortal flesh Op37, no3 5:58
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14 Pavel Chesnokov Holy God Op38, no1 3:13
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15 Pavel Chesnokov The wise thief Op40, no3 Cn225(mc) 1:48
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16 Pavel Chesnokov Do not reject me in my old age Op40, no5 Cn227 5:04
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17 Pavel Chesnokov Most Holy Mother of God, save us Op43, no1 2:54
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18 Pavel Chesnokov Put not your hope, O my soul Op48, no4 4:37
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19 Pavel Chesnokov Praise ye the name of the Lord (Kievan chant) Op50a, no6 4:17
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20 Pavel Chesnokov Great doxology (no.4) 7:06
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21 Pavel Chesnokov Memory eternal Op46 2
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