Notes & Reviews:
Import Hybrid-SACD pressing.
Rachmaninov's setting of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom - Eastern Christianity's common Eucharistic service liturgy - is regarded as one of the great cornerstones of 20th-century sacred music. This work of symphonic proportions was composed in the summer of 1910, in less than three weeks. After its completion, Rachmaninov wrote to a friend that he had been carried away by the project and that it had been a long time since he had written music with such pleasure. The outcome was judged by contemporary church officials as "...absolutely wonderful, even too beautiful... it is not church music." This a cappella choral work is performed by one of the foremost choruses in the world, the Latvian Radio Choir, under the direction of Sigvards Klava. The soloist roles are sung by Karlis Rutentals (tenor; celebrant priest) and Gundrars Dzilums (bass; deacon). The recording was made at the Riga Dome Cathedral in March/April 2008.
Throughout the Second and Third Antiphons, for instance, you can't help but just be caught up in the sheer beauty of the music and in the responsiveness of the ensemble to conductor Sigvards Klava's nuances of phrasing and dynamics. How can you not be moved and impressed by the lovely sound, perfect blend, and vibrant timbre in the Communion Verse "Hvalite Gospoda"? Yes, this is not just a functional liturgical work, but a masterpiece of high artistic quality as well. The recording in Riga's Dome Cathedral allows Rachmaninov's sensuous melodies and gripping harmonies plenty of room to blossom while preserving top-to-bottom balance and clear detail of each vocal line. Essential!
Normally you'd run a mile from music recorded in the reverberant acoustics of a cathedral. But not in this case...the music - reverent, restrained and slow-moving - suits this fine performance in Riga's Dome Cathedral.
Recording information: Riga Dom Cathedral (03/27/2008-04/03/2009).
Submitted on 06/23/10 by Gavin Dixon
Works DetailsRachmaninov, Sergei : Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op. 31
- Performers: Karlis Rütentals; Günders Dzilums
- Conductor: Sigvards Klava
- Notes: Riga Dom Cathedral (03/27/2008-04/03/2009)
- Running Time: 43 min. 32 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Written: 1910