Andrei Ilyashenko (1884–1954) showed great promise in his earliest sacred pieces, published before the 1917 Revolution, employing a fresh harmonic and contrapuntal approach that certainly distinguished him among his Russian contemporaries of the early 20th century. Forced to flee his homeland, he lived out his life as a music teacher in Belgium. The full scope of his choral musical legacy has yet to be revealed. His sacred concerto for the Nativity of Christ, written in 1922, alternates long chant-like vocal lines of his own invention with bold harmonies in richly scored block chords. The music captures the elements of mystery and majesty that are inherent in the Incarnation of Christ, while the text reflects poetically upon the difficulty experienced by hymnographers to compose music and texts that are sufficiently lofty for praise and true worship.
(Recorded by Conspirare on their CD, The Sacred Spirit of Russia, release date: Fall 2013)