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Flemish Radio Choir - Rachmaninov, S.: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

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Rachmaninov, S.: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Anonymous - Sergei Rachmaninov

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Unlike Westerners working with Catholic and Protestant texts, Russian composers setting Orthodox liturgy have had only an intermittent series of inspirations to draw on. Rachmaninov, with his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom of 1910, was preceded by Tchaikovsky and a few other composers in setting this text, but the idea of an orchestral, polyphonic setting of the liturgy that could be performed outside of a church was still seen as undesirable or even blasphemous by many Orthodox clerics. The work found favor neither with Russian Communists nor with the underground and fervent church, and after World War I it fell into obscurity, to be resurrected only in the 1980s. It is thus much less often heard than Rachmaninov's Vespers (All-Night Vigil) or his choral symphony The Bells. The work has none of the basso rumblings of the Vespers, and it seems to have been written with an eye or ear toward pleasing its churchly critics: its language is spare and often chant-like, with frequent use of monophonic lines and organum-like parallelisms. In a performance world conditioned to think lush when dealing with Rachmaninov, this poses a problem. But with this recording by the modest-sized Flemish Radio Choir under Kaspars Putnins, the problem has been solved. This is, quite simply, one of the most sonically beautiful albums ever recorded. (It was auditioned on a fine conventional stereo; those able to hear it in the intended SACD surround sound may reap yet deeper ecstasies.) The choir insinuates itself into the spaces of the Jesuit Church in Heverlee, Belgium, in such a way that they seem to be attuning each line to the resonances of the building, and the prism-like effects that issue forth from Rachmaninov's minimal textures are things of which Glass and Reich can only dream. A drawback in the presentation of this disc is the omission of texts, especially annoying in view of the five languages in which the notes are given (is there any European who couldn't have managed if they were condensed to three?); the texts of the liturgy are found easily enough on the Internet, but it takes a bit of work to match them up with what Rachmaninov is setting -- certain portions, as in a Western mass, are cut or left to a leader. Nevertheless, the sheer sonic luxuriance of this release is something not to be missed.
© TiVo

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Rachmaninov, S.: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Flemish Radio Choir

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1
The Great Litany
Kaspars Putnins
00:00:46

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

2
Bless the Lord, O my soul
Flemish Radio Choir
00:04:03

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

3
Glory be to the Father
Flemish Radio Choir
00:03:04

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

4
In Thy Kingdom
Kaspars Putnins
00:05:40

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

5
Come, let us Worship
Flemish Radio Choir
00:01:38

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

6
O, Lord
Kaspars Putnins
00:02:42

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

7
The Augmented and Subsequent Litanies
Kaspars Putnins
00:05:35

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

8
The Cherubic Hymn
Kaspars Putnins
00:05:09

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

9
The Litany of Supplication
Kaspars Putnins
00:00:50

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

10
The Creed
Flemish Radio Choir
00:07:27

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

11
A Mercy of Peace
Kaspars Putnins
00:06:21

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

12
To Thee We Sing
Kaspars Putnins
00:02:51

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

13
It is Truly Meet
Kaspars Putnins
00:02:57

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

14
The Lord's Prayer
Kaspars Putnins
00:05:38

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

15
The Communion Hymn, "Praise the Lord of the Heavens"
Flemish Radio Choir
00:02:39

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

16
Blessed is He - We Have Seen the True Light
Kaspars Putnins
00:01:24

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

17
May our Mouths be Filled
Flemish Radio Choir
00:04:06

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

18
Blessed be the Name of the Lord
Kaspars Putnins
00:00:47

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

19
Glory to the Father
Kaspars Putnins
00:01:31

Flemish Radio Choir, Choir - Kaspars Putnins, Conductor

Descripción del álbum

Unlike Westerners working with Catholic and Protestant texts, Russian composers setting Orthodox liturgy have had only an intermittent series of inspirations to draw on. Rachmaninov, with his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom of 1910, was preceded by Tchaikovsky and a few other composers in setting this text, but the idea of an orchestral, polyphonic setting of the liturgy that could be performed outside of a church was still seen as undesirable or even blasphemous by many Orthodox clerics. The work found favor neither with Russian Communists nor with the underground and fervent church, and after World War I it fell into obscurity, to be resurrected only in the 1980s. It is thus much less often heard than Rachmaninov's Vespers (All-Night Vigil) or his choral symphony The Bells. The work has none of the basso rumblings of the Vespers, and it seems to have been written with an eye or ear toward pleasing its churchly critics: its language is spare and often chant-like, with frequent use of monophonic lines and organum-like parallelisms. In a performance world conditioned to think lush when dealing with Rachmaninov, this poses a problem. But with this recording by the modest-sized Flemish Radio Choir under Kaspars Putnins, the problem has been solved. This is, quite simply, one of the most sonically beautiful albums ever recorded. (It was auditioned on a fine conventional stereo; those able to hear it in the intended SACD surround sound may reap yet deeper ecstasies.) The choir insinuates itself into the spaces of the Jesuit Church in Heverlee, Belgium, in such a way that they seem to be attuning each line to the resonances of the building, and the prism-like effects that issue forth from Rachmaninov's minimal textures are things of which Glass and Reich can only dream. A drawback in the presentation of this disc is the omission of texts, especially annoying in view of the five languages in which the notes are given (is there any European who couldn't have managed if they were condensed to three?); the texts of the liturgy are found easily enough on the Internet, but it takes a bit of work to match them up with what Rachmaninov is setting -- certain portions, as in a Western mass, are cut or left to a leader. Nevertheless, the sheer sonic luxuriance of this release is something not to be missed.
© TiVo

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