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Georgy SVIRIDOV (1915-1998)
Choral Music from the 1970s

Pushkin's Garland - Choral Concerto on verses by Alexander Pushkin [36.38]
Concerto to the Memory of A. A. Yurlov [10.35]
Three Choral Pieces to A. K. Tolstoy's Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich [11.10]
Ikon to words by Alexander Blok [6.58]
Moscow Chamber Choir/Vladimir Minin
rec. Moscow 1989
RUSSIAN COMPACT DISC RCD 13005 [65.11]


This disc is in RCD's 'Talents of Russia' series. The talent celebrated is that of Vladimir Minin whose name is given prominence on the front cover. That prominence dwarfs the font size accorded to Sviridov. No matter; at least we get to hear Sviridovís choral music.

Sviridov was born in the Kursk region close to the folk influences of his home. He studied compostion with Mikhail Yudin in Leningrad moving to Shostakovich for both composition and orchestration. He lived in Moscow from 1956. From an early age he set the Russian greats, Lermontov, Pushkin, also Alexander Blok (nuch favoured by Shaporin also) and Avetik Isaakyan. In addition there is a piano concerto (1936), a Symphony for strings (1940) as well as the Kursk Songs (1964),

As you may know from the Relief recording of the Oratorio Pathétique, Sviridov's writing tends to the traditional - innovating only at the periphery. The Pushkin settings predominantly adopt intimate expression rather than the reverberating clamour of the Oratorio and lean on folk examples. The choral works generally represent the composerís core interests: the voice and Russian literature. Much of the writing is unison with the joy coming in the magnificence and leonine beauty of tone, the control of dynamics and the contours, usually velvety but always instinct with the power of Russian language. Sviridov mobilises all of these adding distinctively elements that coast close to Delius's 'Summer Nights on the River', Vaughan Williams and distance effects as in tr. 4 Echo. The singing exults in tone. There are some dissonances and wailing slides 'off the note' in My sweetheart and in Musk and Camphor. In my sweetheart (tr. 2) L. Slepneva demonstrates a lovely purity of voice suggestive of the 1970s Sheila Armstrong. The pecking magpie chatter of N. Gerasimova is virtuosic, essentially cheerful yet nostalgic also. It typifies such russian traditions that Sviridov uses bell sounds in the percussion array at Grecian Feast and Musk and Camphor deploy.

The Yurlov Concerto offers honeyed and rounded writing; static, exulting in beauty of tone of which the Moscow Chamber Choir have deep reserves and basso profundo depth. This can also be heard at the end of the Choral at tr. 13. The Poem of Confession (tr. 16) is suggestive of remoteness. Depth of soundstage is almost tactile - conveyed by the 'placement' of the female singers.

The Blok setting (17), Ikon is again nectar thick and smooth - quiet - with two treacly strong male soloists S. Baikov and I. Selezneva in the foreground and a growling deep basso in the background as in the Rachmaninov Vespers.

Sadly the words are not printed and there is very little detailed information about the works in the insert booklet.

This music will appeal, without a shadow of doubt, to anyone who loves the Rachmaninov Vespers or the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom; works multiply recorded since the early 1990s but known hardly at all until Sveshnikov's still revelatory Melodiya version of the Vespers made in 1965.

Rob Barnett
This music will appeal without a shadow of doubt to anyone who loves the Rachmaninov Vespers ... do not delay.... see Full Review



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