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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME!!!
I am not one to go into long winded and technical explanations as to why I do or do not like a specific CD, but I will simply say that regarding this one, although I am not a person of faith, listening to the glorious a cappella performance of Russian liturgical music sung by the wonderful Tenebrae, I feel my whole being, lifted from the stress of a busy day.
For me,...
Published 10 months ago by Linda Darnell

versus
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not this time...
According to the blurb on the back of this disc, Classic FM has declared…”Tenebrae is current master of the Russian Sound.” Er, no; that’s exactly what they are not and five minutes’ comparison with genuine Russian choirs will confirm it. My touchstones are venerable past and present choirs in my collection such as the Novospassky Monastery...
Published 10 months ago by Ralph Moore


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUBLIME!!!, 18 Feb 2014
By 
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This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
I am not one to go into long winded and technical explanations as to why I do or do not like a specific CD, but I will simply say that regarding this one, although I am not a person of faith, listening to the glorious a cappella performance of Russian liturgical music sung by the wonderful Tenebrae, I feel my whole being, lifted from the stress of a busy day.
For me, the whole CD is achingly beautiful.....
The CD Booklet is excellent too, in that it gives the words to each piece, both in Russian and English.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It knocked my socks off, 2 Mar 2014
By 
Chris Todhunter (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
I feel a tad diffident about offering a review of this CD/MP3 download in view of the very erudite discussion going on following Ralph Moore's learned review. I have little more than a passing knowledge of the Russian choral tradition, but even so I was struck by the fact that this recording of these fabulous pieces by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninov, Golovanov, Chesnokov, Kalinnikov and Kedrov was by a supremely English (and masterly) choir of the finest English tradition. Despite the rumblings of the basso profundo (I take a more charitable view than Moore: to me it sounds musical rather than the grumblings of Johnson's dog), there is no way that this performance is Russian.

OK, so let's move on. The music itself stunned me, especially the opening piece by Gretchaninov. Having sung one or two of his pieces many years ago, I was astonished that he was capable of quite so much 'purple' harmonisation - the suspensions, added sixths and all the rest of it; I love it. Weirdly, I was reminded of Debussy, although with Russian rather than French angst (celebrating a bit of cultural diversity there!). And in many of the Rachmaninov tracks I felt that Charles Stanford might have modelled his Three Motets (particularly Justorum Animae) on them (fanciful, given that Stanford was 20 years earlier). But there we are, a very personal view.

I would recommend this to any general listener for the sheer beauty of a) the music and b) what Tenebrae do with it. And then listen to the same music sung by a major Russian choir. The latter will be 'right' for the music, the former may well still give you enormous pleasure, as it does me.

I had originally knocked one star off for coming from St Englishman's rather than from St Basil's (yeah I know that's a museum now) but this recoding has given me so much pleasure that I must restore that final star.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sublime recording with elements of transcendence about it, 7 Jan 2014
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Russian Treasures (MP3 Download)
This sublime albumn makes for a glorious start to 2014. I was fortunate to come across it while browsing online and having enjoyed so many recordings of Tenebrae before, I decided to get my hands on it straightaway.

This unique recording contains several previously unheard material which director Nigel Short collected himself while journeying around Russia, along with some other more familiar pieces. In a recent interview Nigel Short confirmed that some items come from the All Night Vigil of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Most of the pieces are sung in Russian but this does not detract from the recording, but rather adds to the atmosphere, in which one can easily imagine black-robed priests moving among the clouds of incense of Orthodoxy. Having said that, the when English is heard, it is with crystal clarity and "Legend (The Crown of Roses) is a particular pleasure to listen to.

As I listened to the various album tracks I was reminded at times (in "Glory to the Father" for example) of John Taverner's more sombre pieces, especially when hearing the lovely deep bass parts which recur throughout the album. I would think that the basses on "We Hymn Thee" have a resonance which will cause vibrations in the chest cavity of anyone who listens to it.

It is not all sobriety however - the crescendos on Rejoice of Virgin rise up in a glorious climax, descending immediately to a deeply tender conclusion, demonstrating the remarkable dynamic range of this choir. The recording is immaculate as one would expect from this new label Bene Art, set up to record the works of Tenebrae and their associates.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not this time..., 16 Feb 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
According to the blurb on the back of this disc, Classic FM has declared…”Tenebrae is current master of the Russian Sound.” Er, no; that’s exactly what they are not and five minutes’ comparison with genuine Russian choirs will confirm it. My touchstones are venerable past and present choirs in my collection such as the Novospassky Monastery Choir, the Russian State Symphonic Capella and the State Academic Russian Choir USSR – or even the Bulgarian National Choir, obviously non-native but still steeped in the right choral tradition.

I have hitherto unstintingly admired and praised every release from this wonderful choir that I have heard. Tenebrae sings beautifully, of course, and their artistic director and founder Nigel Short is a superb singer-musician, but he is not Polyansky or Sveshnikov and this latest issue is a bridge too far. Indeed, I began to lose interest some time before the end of the programme for three reasons: 1) no version here eclipses those performed by native choirs and indelibly burned in my memory as the immutable standard whereby any subsequent performance must be judged; 2) the interpretations are so similar and unvaried in mood that I get no sense of the spiritual conviction which should inform the text; almost every piece is redolent of the atmosphere of a devotional offering sung in the chapel of an English country house or an Oxbridge College; 3) the essential sound is that of an English choir; the basses remind me of Dr Johnson’s dog, insofar as they have the low notes but they are more groaned than resonated.

Five of the eighteen pieces here are from Rachmaninov’s famous “All-Night Vigil” and three are from his “Liturgy of St John Chrysostom”. Others inclusions are standard classics such as baritone Nikolay Kedrov’s “Our Father” (“Otche nash”); hence there is no shortage of comparative versions, so let me offer specific, individual examples of where I think Tenebrae fails to deliver. Many are gems of brevity, lasting no more than two or three minutes but extraordinarily intense both emotionally and musically. So I will not plough through every work , but let me begin with that “Our Father”, which approaches the numinous but remains much too fast and small-scale. Admittedly, it was written for a vocal quartet who sang with Chaliapin, but a voice of his type is not in evidence here and we have become used to the grand choral arrangement. The opening track is Gretchnaninov’s “Now the Powers of Heaven”; it is lovely but so refined as too lose the requisite sense of elation and the basses, although adequate, are tame. The “Nunc dimittis” (track 2) is also a full two minutes quicker than Sveshnikov’s classic version and thus far too fast. The lack of pulse means that we are cheated of the effect Rachmaninov intended of reproducing the sound great bells swinging. The celebrated concluding low B flat is “there” but little more than a simulation of the real thing and the tenor soloist sounds far too pale and polite where a ringing Russian tenor with some edge and power is needed. “Pridiite” (track 4) is yet again too fast and sounds like what it is: an English choir gently inviting us rather than a jubilant and imperative summons from Old Russia. The “Ave Maria” (track 11) has a meltingly beautiful melody with a lovely melismata on “raduysia” (“rejoice”); an echt Russian choir leans energetically into first beat of every bar; here, that effect goes for nothing. The “Alliluiya” ostinato of “Blessed is the Man” (track 12) is bland and without conviction to the point that the piece sounds like a second-rate Renaissance Requiem and nothing is made of the arresting modulations and surprising intervals; they pass without emphasis. Finally, “To Thee, Victorious Leader” (track 18), surely meant to be a glorious, climactic paean to the Pantocrator here takes on the character of a tripping medieval carol. Perhaps that explains why Tenebrae sounds most at home in the English text version of Tchaikovsky’s Legend” (track16).

If I seem ungrateful for this disc, I can only say that although I can see how this issue should be welcomed as a means of introducing a wider public to the glories of Russian liturgical music, I would nonetheless urge that new audience to sample more authentic performances in order to hear it at its best.

[This review also posted on the MusicWeb International website]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime music but lacks composer detail for individual pieces, 18 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Russian Treasures (MP3 Download)
The music is sublime and I look forward to listening to it again and again. However, a major disappointment is the finding that on this MP3 download there is no information regarding the composer of each piece of music. It seems the best way to obtain this information is by looking it up on iTunes....!
I hope that Amazon will fix this glitch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Performance rating Tenebrae Russian Treasures, 11 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
Beautiful performance of beautiful music. I love the Russian liturgical sonorities. This recording compares extremely weill with others of the same pieces.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman in St Basil's, 25 Feb 2014
By 
Chris Todhunter (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Russian Treasures (MP3 Download)
I feel a tad diffident about offering a review of this CD/MP3 download in view of the very erudite discussion going on following Ralph Moore's learned review (see the Audio CD web page reviews; why the CD page and MP3 download page should have different reviews for the same recording I have no idea). I have little more than a passing knowledge of the Russian choral tradition, but even so I was struck by the fact that this recording of these fabulous pieces by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninov, Golovanov, Chesnokov, Kalinnikov and Kedrov was by a supremely English (and masterly) choir of the finest English tradition. Despite the rumblings of the basso profundo (I take a more charitable view than Moore: to me it sounds musical rather than the grumblings of Johnson's dog), there is no way that this performance is Russian.

OK, so let's move on. The music itself stunned me, especially the opening piece by Gretchaninov. Having sung one or two of his pieces many years ago, I was astonished that he was capable of quite so much 'purple' harmonisation - the suspensions, added sixths and all the rest of it; I love it. Weirdly, I was reminded of Debussy, although with Russian rather than French angst (celebrating a bit of cultural diversity there!). And in many of the Rachmaninov tracks I felt that Charles Stanford might have modelled his Three Motets (particularly Justorum Animae) on them (fanciful, given that Stanford was 20 years earlier). But there we are, a very personal view.

I would recommend this to any general listener for the sheer beauty of a) the music and b) what Tenebrae do with it. And then listen to the same music sung by a major Russian choir. The latter will be 'right' for the music, the former may well still give you enormous pleasure, as it does me.

I had originally knocked one star off for coming from St Englishman's rather than from St Basil's (yeah I know that's a museum now) but this recoding gives me so much pleasure that I must restore that final star.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite russian music and a spirited interpretation by a top class English choir., 16 April 2014
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This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
The purists will say that these performances fail to live up to the 'authentic' sound of a Russian choir; however this is fantastic music and the overall impact is very satisfying. I am please to have made this addition to my collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 9 May 2014
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This review is from: Russian Treasures (Audio CD)
If you like choral music, and you like it rich and harmonic, with oodles of depth and character, and you like it moving and soulful, go out and get this. And so beautifully sung too. They're a very good choir
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5.0 out of 5 stars Precision and beauty., 26 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Russian Treasures (MP3 Download)
Beautiful, balanced precise singing and a subterranean bass singer. The programme is very well balanced and superbly performed and recorded. If you love unaccompanied choir music you need this immediately!
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Russian Treasures
Russian Treasures by Tenebrae (Audio CD - 2014)
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