Russian sacred music constitutes an entirely unique aspect of Russian and world musical culture. The hymns sung at the worship services of the Russian Orthodox Church are lled with profound meaning and supply an inexhaustible source of nourishment for the soul. Among the composers whose musical legacy has become an integral part of the Church’s liturgical life is Pavel Grigor’yevich Chesnokov; his works have always been in demand and well loved by churchgoers.
As a composer, he belongs to the so-called “new direction” of Moscow composers, a school of church composition that arose in the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries within the walls of the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing. Other composers of this “Moscow School” include Alexander Kastalsky, Alexander Grechaninov, Alexander Chesnokov, Alexander Nikolsky, Victor Kalinnikov, and Nicholas Golovanov. Among its foundational principles were, a focused attention upon historical and traditional chants, together with a search for creative approaches to arranging them polyphonically, and the reexamination of the ways in which the accumulated experience of secular folk and art music could be applied to liturgical singing.
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Church of Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Sartov Orthodox Theological Seminary
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|Release Date||May 18, 2018|
In Teach Me Thy Statutes, 15 compositions by the prolific Pavel Chesnokov (1877–1944) receive devout performances by the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir, a joint Russian-American ensemble conducted by Vladimir Gorbik, recorded in the historic Church of Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian at Saratov Orthodox Theological Seminary, Russia on Reference Recordings. Recorded in hi-rez DSD by John Newton, and mixed and mastered by Mark Donahue of SoundMirror, the perspective is narrow, but conveys a greater richness of reverberation and longer decays than on other recordings.
Although the choir’s 42 voices include five basso profundos, many will seek out this album more for spiritual elevation than for depth-plumbing bass. This is a recording for those with a taste for Russian monastic singing, rarely heard outside that country, and who cherish the consistently consonant harmonies of compositions intended to provide seekers with a sense of security.
Musicweb International [May 2018 Recording of the Month]
I have listened to the Stereo DSD128 download from NativeDSD and, as expected, it sounds magnificent. Indeed, this album now tops my shortlist of the year’s best so far.
There are few more thrilling experiences than the sound of Russian sacred music, especially when it’s sung by native choirs. … Teach Me Thy Statutes, the first in a projected series from the Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music Institute (PaTRAM), features their male choir, directed by Vladimir Gorbik.
Given that this ensemble is made up of professional American and Russian singers, one could say this album represents the best of both worlds, an impression amply confirmed by a quick dip into this download. Factor in a truly authentic Russian venue, and the presence of Soundmirror’s Blanton Alspaugh, John Newton and Mark Donahue, and the auguries for this new release are very good indeed.
… this all-Chesnokov programme, part of Reference’s FRESH! series, appears to be a very welcome first. … The soundstage, like the voices, goes very deep, so vital in conveying choral heft and the feel of a large, votive space; there’s plenty of nuance and detail, too. Really, this is a remarkable recording…
Is there nothing this choir can’t do, no challenge to which they can’t rise? Of course, so much credit is due to Gorbik’s inspiring leadership, his devotion to, and affinity for, this music laid bare in every bar. In short, a fine start to what promises to be a most valuable and rewarding project. Intensely beautiful singing and sound; quite simply, choral albums don’t come much better than this.”
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