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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released August 10, 2018 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Alexander Kastalsky (1856–1926) was one of the main musicians from the Russian religious sphere—at least up until the Russian Revolution, after which he cautiously turned toward the study of Russian folkloric music. A student of Tchaikovsky and of Taneyev, he quickly integrates the Moscow Synodal School, from 1887 up to its dissolution by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Composer, folklorist, skilled choirmaster, he knew how to freely move between genres and styles, even if a great part of his fame relied on his vision of the Ancient Russian sacred music, which he knew how to magically use in his own reinterpretations. For this Memory Eternal to the Fallen Heroes from 1917, we understand that he embraces both the sacred element and the Revolution cause: it is here a rewriting of his own of a work written two years earlier for choir and organ, being, as the Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t accept musical instruments in its midst, only voices. The proceedings of this work follow more or less the ones from the Byzantine Orthodox ritual, with the use of the cantor’s voice every now and then. Naturally, we cannot not think of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers written two years earlier, especially in the use of the modes and themes of the ancient liturgy, but in an intensely rich polyphonic rewriting. This is truly a beautiful work, magnificently sung by Stephen Fox’s Clarin Choir. © SM/Qobuz