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Beyond the Eastern Wind Henryk GÓRECKI(1933-2010)
Totus Tuus, Op.60 (1987) [7:56] Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)
Bogoróditse Djévo (1990) [1:20]
Magnificat (1989) [6:40]
Summa (1977) [6:17]
Da Pacem Domine (2004) [4:32] Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Drei Geistliche Gesänge (1983-84) (‘O Mother of God’ [1:40] ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ [1:33] ‘The Lord’s Prayer’) [3:20] Pēteris VASKS (b.1946)
Te Deum per organo (1991) [12:48] Jan JANCA (b.1933)
Orgelverse über ‘Hilf, Herr, meines Lebens’ (1979) [6:10] Jerry DADAP (b.1935)
Alleluja (1974) [1:46]
Collegium Vocale/Michael Deltchev
Louise Boll (organ)
rec. Draaby Church, East Jutland, Denmark 1-2 June 2013 & 19 January 2014 DANACORD DACOCD750 [54:05]
Beyond the Eastern Wind is the first CD release from Collegium Vocale. This vocal ensemble which was formed in 1992, consists of a mix of professional and amateur female and male singers. They are based in Aarhus, Denmark. Their repertoire is wide-ranging: from early baroque to the present day. However, the ‘added value’ of this group is their interest in performing modern Scandinavian and Baltic states music.
Henryk Górecki was effectively discovered — at least in the United Kingdom — with his heart-rendingly beautiful Symphony No. 3 ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ (1976) which had a vogue on Classic FM during the 1990s. There are currently 18 versions of this symphony in the Arkiv catalogues. In succeeding years his music has been explored by performers and artists across the world. The opening number on this CD is ‘Totus Tuus’ Op.60 which was composed in 1987. It was first heard during the Pope’s visit to Poland in that year. The work is based on poem written by Maria Boguslawska: it is addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the patron saint of Poland. ‘Totus Tuus’ is presented in a straightforward, homophonic style that reflects the simplicity of much of the composer’s later music.
The main contributor to this CD is Arvo Pärt. ‘Bogoróditse Djévo’ (O Mother of God) dates from 1990 and is written in an almost bucolic mood and closes with some delicately chanted words featuring some delicious harmonies.
The Magnificat (1989) has some attractive ‘spicy’ chords: this liturgical work is surprisingly restrained and introverted but ultimately perfectly suited to divine worship.
The Summa (1977) is a setting of the Nicene Creed. For me it is the least satisfying work on this CD. There is a starkness here that seems to be at odds with the text.
The CD concludes with one of the most perfect works in the choral repertoire – ‘Da Pacem Domine’ (Give peace, O Lord). It was composed in 2004 and is based on the the eponymous Gregorian hymn: the original chant is contained in the Liber Usualis. This work appears so simple, yet there is a beauty about the unfolding of the parts and the increasing ‘tartness’ of the harmonies that leads towards the final reassuring chord.
I would like to have learnt a bit more about Alfred Schnittke’s beautiful Three Sacred Hymns (Drei Geistliche Gesänge) yet there is nothing in the liner notes, and a lack of any information on the internet. These short pieces, written in 1983-4, are a perfect exploration of contemplative Christianity from a composer who had been nurtured in an atheistic country. The year prior to writing these songs he had been baptised into the Roman Catholic Church: he ‘converted’ to Orthodoxy shortly before his death.
Typically, the music on this exciting new release features music from the Baltic states. One exception to this is Jerry Dadap, who was born in the Philippines in 1935. His short ‘Alleuja’, which was composed in 1974, is exciting, vibrant and rhythmically demanding. Unfortunately, there is precious little information about Dadap on the internet.
Two works for organ are included in this CD: it gives variety to an outstanding programme. I have not come across the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks before. His ‘Te Deum’ per organo, dates from 1991: this is a big, powerful work that may remind the listener of Buxtehude (made modern).
The Polish/German (born in Danzig in 1933) composer and organist Jan Janca is also a discovery for me. His Orgelverse über ‘Hilf, Herr, meines Lebens’ dates from 1979 and is presented as a number of short sections. It is written in an approachable style that starts reflectively and builds towards a searing climax.
The liner-notes are beautifully produced and I can read them clearly. Unfortunately, there is no historical information given about the composers and their music. The texts of each choral work is presented along with an English translation. Brief notes on Collegium Vocale, their director and Louise Boll the organist round things out. There is a photograph of the organ in Draaby Kirche, but, alas, no specification for this fine instrument.
54 minutes is a wee bit short for a CD these days: there must be many other numbers in this vocal group’s repertoire.
These two issues aside, this is a beautiful CD with hugely attractive music, performed with distinction and obvious attention to detail. The sound quality is excellent.