OPERA NEWS - Hymns and Prayers
From Development server
Recordings > Choral and Song

SVIRIDOV: Hymns and Prayers

spacer Bondaruk, Zuyeva; Roman, Pachashynsky, Yakobenchuk, Tarasiy; Credo Chamber Choir; Plish. No texts. Toccata Classics 0123

Recordings Sviridov Cover 815

Russian composer Georgy Sviridov — born near Kursk in 1915 and trained in Leningrad — spanned several eras, from the Romanov Empire to the Putin era. Western listeners are perhaps most likely to have encountered his oeuvre in film scores or in the many songs he wrote. A pianist as well as a composer, he died in 1998, at the age of eighty-two. He crafted many works for Irina Arkhipova as well as Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Unlike with several Russian composers and other creative artists who miraculously rediscovered their Orthodox roots in a lavish, public way during the nationalist, Orthodox Church-dominated cultural ethos of the Putin era, Sviridov seemed equally sincere and grounded in his late work as in what he had produced, in a multiplicity of genres, throughout his career. His 1970s incidental music for staged historical dramas awoke an engagement with ancient liturgical traditions, which Sviridov began exploring further from the mid-1980s.

His 1997 choral cycle Hymns [or, literally, Canticles”] and Prayers (Pesnopenija i molitvi), which took him nearly a decade to compose, follows tradition in being for unaccompanied voices (instruments being alien to Orthodox church music). Though here and there deploying harmonies suggesting mid-twentieth century music, Sviridov draws on centuries of tradition as skillfully and affectingly as did Rachmaninoff before him. The pieces are not meant for actual liturgical use, since there’s an admixture of Russian lexical material amidst texts largely in the canonical Church Slavonic, the common ancestor of several Slavic tongues. 

Toccata Classics’ appealing issue was recorded in 2004, not in Russia but in Kyiv — in the Ukranian capital’s historic Uspensky Cathedral. Bogdan Plish, the founder and leader of the impressive, generally masterfully blended Credo Chamber Choir, devised a sequence for the choral pieces different from that in published editions following upon performances by Sviridov and others in St. Petersburg’s Kapella during the 1990s; the helpful booklet essay outlines how to deploy program sequences. Plish’s schematic arrangement follows an introduction with four thematically grouped categories: “From the Old Testament,” “The Nativity of Christ,” “Christ’s Life on Earth” and “After the Resurrection.” By and large Russian Orthodox choral works eschew the kind of exposed and cadential solos found in many Western works. The solo contributions can serve as punctuation, contrast or pivots.  Two soloists go by their monastic names: the tenor Roman (a deacon) and bass Tarasiy, an archdeacon. Like the others — Ivanna Bondaruk (soprano), Yuliya Zuyeva (mezzo), Roman Pachashynsky (tenor) and Nazar Yakobenchuk (baritone) — they’re not “operatic” in affect; rather, instrumental and self-effacing. However, Bondaruk’s ethereal purity would make her voice an asset in any ensemble. spacer


Send feedback to OPERA NEWS.

Follow OPERA NEWS on FacebookTwitter Button