SACRED TREASURES V: FROM A RUSSIAN CATHEDRAL features mainly 20th century and contemporary composers. There are several selections from "Liturgy of Peace" by Archbishop lonafan (Yeletskyh) of Kiev in which the eastern "Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom" is sung to the melodies of Western Gregorian chants, creating a musical synthesis of the two traditions.
Nikolai Kedrov Sr.'s famous setting of "The Lord's Prayer" is sung by the Eva Quartet in traditional Bulgarian women's folk style. They appear again in "To Thee We Sing" by Dobri Christov, Bulgaria's greatest sacred music composer.
The "Ektenia" by N. Frunza is an exquisite example of the Slavonic style in which a single angelic voice floats above a dense carpet of a cappella voices. "The Sound of Spirit" by American composer Georgia Kelly is not from the Orthodox tradition, yet is similar in structure and feeling to the Ektenia. Kiev's Credo Chamber Choir gives a passionate rendition of "Holy God" by Russia's Georgiy Sviridov. Three hymns from Rachmaninov's version of the "Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom" and one from Tchaikovsky's version, along with "O Gentle Light," are powerful examples of singing by Russia's massive mixed choirs.
Estonian Urmas Sisask's spectacular "Dominus Vobiscum," though not Orthodox, reveals the influence of Orthodox chant. "It is Truly Meet" is one of many pieces by composers who left the USSR and continued to create abroad. "Shen Khar Venakhi" is a lovely 12th century Georgian hymn in honor of the Mother of God. The numerous repetitions of "Amen," "Alleluia" and "Gospodi pomilui" ("Lord have mercy") throughout the compilation create a unifying theme.
All the pieces and performances are infused with a solemn and deeply devotional quality. The singing is spacious and warm, creating an atmosphere of holiness and benediction. The intention was to weave hymns and verses into a seamless tapestry in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the individual elements of the compilation become movements in a choral symphony of timeless beauty.
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