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Irina Arkhipova and [Russian] State Chamber Choir
Alexander Andreyevich ARKHANGELSKY (1846 - 1924)

Praise the name of the Lord [5.23]
Dmitri Stepanovich BORTNYANSKY (1751 - 1825)

Lord, let me know my end [10.55]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873 - 1943)

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op.31: Ektene of Supplication [3.09]; Blessed the Lord, O my soul [9.20]
Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 - 1893)

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op.41: Our Father [1.23]; Praise the Lord from the Heavens [3.28]
Pavel Grigorievich CHESNOKOV (1877 - 1944)

The eternal [3.02]; Unfailing intercessor of Christians [4.00]; Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as incense [6.24]
Georgy IZVEKOV (18?? - 1930)

Appease my ills [4.10]
G. DAVIDOVSKY (late 18th century)

Now let thy servant depart in peace [1.51
Irina Arkhipova, mezzo-soprano
Russian State Chamber Choir/Valery Polyansky
Recorded in Moscow, Russia, in 1990
Notes in Russian and English. Photos of the artists.
TALENTS OF RUSSIA [Talanti Rossiy] RCD 13001 [52.55]

Comparison Recordings:
Rachmaninov: Vespers. Forrester, Rostropovich Warner Elatus 0927495572
Bortnyansky: Sacred Concertos. Polyansky Chandos CHAN 9729, 9783, 9840

Russia was Christianised by royal decree in 988CE at which time musical and religious scholars were invited from Byzantium to Moscow to establish the Russian Orthodox Christian priesthood and train Russian musicians to provide music for the services. In 1988, exactly 1000 years later, just as the Soviet Union was beginning to liberalise, a concert was held in Moscow to celebrate this anniversary. Two years later that concert was repeated before microphones and the result is this gorgeous digital recording.

We are of course familiar with western composers writing religious music in the western musical tradition — masses, oratorios, te deums, etc. — and since the 1960s Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41 and Rachmaninov’s Vespers, Op. 37 have been available in the West on recordings. But I only recently found out that Rimsky-Korsakov was "Kapellmeister" to the court of Nicolas II and provided church music for the royal chapel. I have always known Atheists and Pagans who attended Orthodox Christian church services regularly just to hear the music, the point being that whatever your religious background, this is great Russian music and you owe it to yourself to hear it. This survey recording would be a good way to start your collection since all the music on it is first rate, the styles are remarkably varied, and the performance and recording are insuperable. If after hearing this you want more, the recordings listed at the top of this review represent excellent choices.

Arkhangelsky is perhaps the third most famous name on this disk, and his work offers at times startling echoes of the Mozart Requiem. The Bortnyansky is strikingly beautiful, this composer becoming well known and attracting a following now that a complete recording of his "sacred concertos" is available.

Arkhipova and the chorus sing with committed passion and reverence throughout. Polyansky has made a number of excellent orchestral recordings of Russian music, but apparently he began with this chorus, and there can’t be any better training for an orchestral conductor.

Paul Shoemaker

An excellent sampler of the best of Russian church music from many centuries ... see Full Review

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