Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravishing A Cappella Choral Singing of a Russian Liturgical Masterpiece, 24 May 2007
This review is from: Grechaninov - Passion Week - Phoenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale (Audio CD)
For starters, this CD contains some of the finest a cappella singing I've ever heard. Its sumptuous choral tone must be heard to be believed. It is done by two professional choirs from seemingly unlikely places, the combined Kansas City Chorale and Phoenix Bach Choir. I have raved about their prior recordings both separately and in combination but this release possibly tops anything they've done, at least in terms of ineffably beautiful a cappella choral sound. The Grechaninov 'Passion Week' is a setting of thirteen pieces with texts in Church Slavonic meant to be sung individually over the period of Passion Week, the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. (And, frankly, I would suggest that listeners ration their listening to one or two sections of the work at a time, in order to experience the unique effect of each individual piece, although there is something to be said for listening to the whole thing -- 74-plus minutes -- to experience its almost hypnotizing cumulative effect.) The Russian Orthodox Church has a tradition of morning and evening services during Passion Week when the passion week's events are recalled almost in 'real time.' The music itself is generally slow, meditative, largely monophonic and almost trance-like. It must be incredibly difficult to sing. One can only imagine the kind of breath support required. One notices that the usual number of singers in these two choirs has been supplemented by several additional basses, no surprise considering the long legato lines required of that section. Their low C's and even B's resound like the tolling of great bells throughout the work. One could almost surmise, if one didn't know, that this was the singing of a Russian choir, so noted for their deep basses, except that the blending and rounding of the choral tone is so very much more subtle than is generally heard from Russian choruses. The work is entirely choral, but there are occasional soprano, tenor and baritone solos which consist mostly of chants sung against the main body of massed sound.

Aleksandr Tikhonovich Grechaninov (1864-1956) was a few years older than Sergey Rachmaninov and his sacred music is in many ways similar in style to that of the better-known composer. Grechaninov's 'Passion Week' was written in 1912, shortly before Rachmaninov wrote his well-known 'Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom' which has also been recorded by the Kansas City Chorale in a lauded release which unfortunately is not easily availabel these days but worth seeking out. After the Revolution Grechaninov emigrated from the Soviet Union and eventually wound up in the US where he became a citizen. He continued, even after leaving Russia, to write music for emigré congregations of the Russian church although he also began writing liturgical works for the Roman Catholic Church as well. His sacred music is what he is best known for, although he also wrote operas, songs and orchestral works.

There is no question that Charles Bruffy, the conductor of both the Phoenix Bach Choir and the Kansas City Chorale, is one of the most talented choirmasters currently working anywhere in the world. He may very well be the US analog to Eric Ericson of Sweden or Laurence Equilbey of France. Certainly his choruses' style is more European than English, and it is to the English Chandos label's credit that they have added these two Bruffy-directed choirs to their roster. One looks forward to any and all future releases from these marvelous groups.

This is a hybrid SACD disc which means it can be played on both a regular CD player or on SACD equipment. In either format the sound is rich, warm and true.

The previous release of the combined Phoenix Bach Choir and the Kansas City Chorale, featuring mainly the Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin, is here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eternal-Rest-Phoenix-Kansas-Chorale/dp/B000IB0JSE/

Scott Morrison
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

5.0 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer

J Scott Morrison
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Middlebury VT, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 370