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Russian Orthodox Chant from Odessa Seminary
Lord, save us [2:07]; Our Father - Lord´s Prayer [3:00]; Morning Prayer [2:39]; In Heaven [3:53]; Hymn to the Virgin Mary [4:05]; Heavenly Peace [3:44]; God is with us [3:23]; Lord can you hear us, Litany of Supplication [4:16]; The creator of the world, we praise Thee [2:46]; A Mercy of Peace [2:26]; One alone is Holy [2:50]; Lord, don’t cry [4:05]; Our Resurrected Lord [4:09]; Now and forever [2:20]; Blessed (Who Cometh in the Name of the Lord) [3:20]; Listen young people [2:45]; The Creed [2:01]; We Have Seen the True Light [1:55]; Oh Virgin, Our Lady [2:33]; Sacred Orthodox Patriarch [2:48]; And For Many Years [1:19]
Sergiy and Feodor (Soloist Monks)
Odessa Seminary Choir/Priest Mikhailo Davydov
Selected Orthodox Chants: We Have No Helps and Hopes 2:41]; We Have Seen the True Light [1:01]; Let Our Mouths Be Filled With Praise [2:08]; The Repentant Criminal [3:37]; Hymn to the Virgin Mary [2:12]
Moscow New Choir/Elena Rastvorova
rec. 1985, 1994. DDD
ALTO ALC 1110 [74:23]

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Alexandr Tikhonovich GRECHANINOV (1864-1956)
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom No.4 (1943)
Priest Fathers: Alexei Godunov and Alexander Korotsky
Cantus Sacred Music Ensemble/Ludmila Arshavskaya
rec. 1994. Studio No. 5 of Moscow Radio Broadcasting House. DDD
Previously released as Olympia OCD480
ALTO ALC1069 [61:00]
Experience Classicsonline

Two choral discs from Alto here further deepen Musical Concepts’ authentic Russian signature. 

There are two components to the Orthodox Chant disc. Twenty-one tracks are devoted to the (obviously) male voice choir of the Odessa Seminary. The sound is supremely resonant - enough to add that iconic halo yet avoiding the blurring of words. One can pick out individual voices but this is not a flaw. The sound of the choir has a mahogany profundity, a dignified surging passion and a gloriously honeyed burr. While many of these tracks proceed at a measured tread quite a few move quickly as does the first which also showcases the chasmal depths of the bass element of the seminary choir. Now if only we could hear this choir in Rachmaninov’s Vespers. They might easily supplant Sveshnikov on the old analogue Melodiya. Women’s voices add a lissom softness to the final five tracks. This is a splendid disc and one you should track down if you are looking to sample this repertoire and I doubt it can easily be bettered at this price. An outstanding bargain. Sung texts or translations not provided. 

The longevity of Grechaninov - he died in New York aged 91 - was matched by his productivity. He studied with Arensky, Taneyev and Rimsky-Korsakov. Chandos (review - symphonies; review - Passion Week) have done him proud as have MD&G (review - quartets). Here however is an ex-Olympia recording of his fourth version (for mixed voices) of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This dates from his long New York spell - he died there. As Per Skans’ extensive notes point out he left Russia in 1925. If Olympia are looking for further projects then I hope that they might look at re-licensing Olympia OCD 586 where the second and fourth symphonies are conducted respectively by Edvard Chivzhel (rec. 1983) and the usually challenging and turbulent Algis Zuraitis (rec. 1977). Meantime this sincere, devout sequence in which the commanding voices of the Priest Fathers contrast with the nicely judged warm tones of the choir. Nothing showy here and few concessions to art music. You are never left in any doubt that this is an extended practical devotional work. The booklet includes a translation (not track-linked) of what is sung but not the Russian language text itself.
Two Russian choral discs rooted deep in the sung traditions of the Russian Orthodox church. This will surely please Grechaninov enthusiasts but the curious generalist would do well to go for the Odessa seminary disc. It really is a winner.
Rob Barnett 




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