This setting of the Beatitudes employs techniques that might be described as "minimalist--two soloists in alternation singing the words on a pentatonic melody, while the choir sustains seemingly eternal, scarcely changing chord--evoking an atmosphere of timelessness and heavenly angelic worship.
Vladimir Martynov (b. 1946) is a Moscow composer who began with post-modernist avant garde and experimental music and later shifted his attention to the chant of the Russian Orthodox Church. His magical setting of the Beatitudes is simplicity itself: two soprano soloists (later joined by a third, singing a descant) alternately sing the words from the Sermon on the Mount to a folk-like pentatonic melody over a timeless ostinato of barely shifting chords hummed by the chorus. Only in the last verse is the music (along with the listeners’ attention) given a new direction—heavenward. The coda, repeated ad libitum, leaves the hearer transfixed and transformed at having experienced something timeless, eternal, and definitely not of this world.
(Recorded by Conspirare on their CD, The Sacred Spirit of Russia, release date: Fall 2013)