CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Briefly Noted: Sacred Tchaikovsky from Latvia

available at Amazon
Tchaikovsky, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (concert version) / Nine Sacred Pieces, G. Dziļums, K. Rūtentāls, Latvian Radio Choir, S. Kļava

(released on June 14, 2019)
Ondine ODE1336-2 | 77'07"
The appearance of the Latvian Radio Choir at the Library of Congress last fall was one of the highlights of the year in music. Their new disc, recorded earlier this year in the resonant acoustic of Riga's St. John's Church, adds another facet to my appreciation of Tchaikovsky as a composer. While never a fan of much of his symphonic music and overblown concertos, I have often admired him as a composer of ballet music, songs, and operas. Add to that admiration a new-found high regard for Tchaikovsky as composer of sacred music.

Sigvards Kļava conducts the shortened version of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, made for concert performance with only some of the prayers for the celebrant and deacon, sung beautifully here by tenor Kārlis Rūtentāls and bass Gundars Dziļums, respectively. It is remarkable that this piece sounds so little like what most listeners likely expect from Tchaikovsky, reflecting the composer's belief that music for the Russian Orthodox service should reflect a more austere idiom.

There is greater musical interest frankly in the motets grouped together in the collection Nine Sacred Pieces. The affecting setting of Da ispravitsya (Hear my prayer) is particularly gorgeous, especially the sections for three angelic women's voices, here sung by sopranos Agnese Urka and Agate Burkina, plus alto Dace Strautmane.

No comments: