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The restoration of the Valaam Monastery in northern Russia has brought about a remarkable resurrection of the monastic chant tradition there, which can be heard now on an ongoing series of beautifully produced CDs. Not only are the recordings marked by a rare clarity and "presence," but the accompanying booklets are beautiful enough to be travel posters, depicting the serene beauty of Valaam Island! Spearheaded largely by Hierodeacon Gherman (Ryabtsev), this series features the use of authentic chants, a simplicity and austerity of performance manner, and in many instances, the use of ison --a drone sustained below the melody, familiar from Greek Byzantine liturgical singing. The result is totally unique, a marked contrast from the traditions of monastic singing at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra or the Kievan Monastery of the Caves, which are much more "robust" by comparison. The unadorned vocal renditions of the Paschal service on this CD move along at a spirited tempo and fully communicate the luminous joy of the Paschal celebration. Even if this style seems unfamiliar at first, it will grow on you!--V.M.