A series of five choir collections issued by the “Compozitor Publishing House • Saint-Petersburg” is arranged to coincide with the 7th International Competition for Young Choral Conductors to be held in Russia for the first time ever. The competition will be organized by the St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts and the Center for international cooperation “Inter Aspect” in conjunction with the European Choral Association — Europa Cantat (April 3–6, 2013, St. Petersburg).
The presented collection shall contain four sacred works by literally outstanding Russian composers: P. Tchaikovsky, S. Rakhmaninov, V. Kalinnikov and A. Schnittke. They are knit together by their reference to orthodox canonical texts; however, each of them reveals the deep and soulful nature of the sacred verse in his own distinctive manner. “Blessed Are Those” by P. Tchaikovsky from the cycle titled “Nine Spiritual Musical Compositions” is a graphic example to illustrate the sacred music by this composer, since it combines the polyphony aspect with colorful harmonic structure of mixed choir, and demonstrates all the abundance and power of the orthodox chant.
Interestingly, before the 90s of the last century we were acquainted only with Viktor Kalinnikov’s 15 secular choirs, and considered him an author which sets music only to poetic texts. However, this Russian composer’s legacy contains 26 (!) remarkable, sincere, and devotional chants set to the Liturgy and the Vespers texts, as well as separate sacred concerts. One of these oeuvres titled “O Gladsome Light” is published in this collection.
The troparion “You Have Risen from the dead”, a fragment from the “Vespers” written byS. Rakhmaninov is rightly considered to be a masterpiece of the Russian sacred music. By the way, the composer has omitted timing in this opus, so as to show the infinite length of chant. He favored horizontal structure (i. e. melodics) even in the chord progression. The collection is topped with “Our Father” from the cycle “Three Spiritual Choruses” — an early, more precisely, the first work for an a cappella mixed choir, composed by A. Schnittke, one of the most remarkable Russian composers of the XX century. Later on, this composer set choral concerts to texts written by Grigor Narekatsi and “Penitential Verses” (dedicated to the 1000 anniversary of Christianization of Russia), which are amazing in their splendor and emotional impact. The same opus features a distinctive tribute to tradition of church orthodox singing, combined with typical “Shnitke’s” harmonies and the ability to provide a very expressive and vivid sound using simple means.
I believe that listening to this sacred music will make us more willing to understand the represented authors on a deeper level. We’ll discover the universe of a very serious music composed using diverse expressive means, which is at the same time soulful and comprehensible.
P. Tchaikovsky. BLESSED ARE THOSE. From the cycle “Nine Spiritual Musical Compositions”
Vikt. Kalinnikov. O GLADSOME LIGHT
S. Rakhmaninov. YOU HAVE RISEN FROM THE DEAD. Fragment from the “Vespers”
A. Schnittke. OUR FATHER. From the cycle “Three Spiritual Choruses”
Supplement. English translation of the Russian texts