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A New Joy / Hillier, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir


Release Date: 01/01/2006 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907410   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Nikolai KedrovArvo PärtAlexandr KastalskyTraditional,   ... 
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


The title of one of the works on this excellent Christmas program is "Oh, What a Wonder!"--and that also could aptly describe the disc as a whole. As they have done many times on previous recordings, Paul Hillier and his Estonian choir bring us intelligently chosen repertoire that's both old and new--that is, music that's been unjustly forgotten, lost, or ignored, or in this case, squashed by the iron fist of anti-religious totalitarianism. A few of the selections are known to Western choral singers: Leontovych's ever-popular "Carol of the Bells", here listed as A Song of Good Cheer and more aptly known by its Ukrainian title, Shchedryk (happily--for once--a performance sung to a
Read more true "allegretto"!); Tchaikovsky's The Legend; and Arvo Pärt's refreshingly lively take on the Ave Maria text (Bogoroditse Devo).


After an enchanting opening track featuring the bells of Tallinn's St. Alexander Cathedral, we also are treated to Nicolas Kedrov's Our Father (Otche nash), one of the most beautiful and moving settings of this revered text in all of music. It's been recorded many times (Harmonia Mundi, with Slavyanka Men's Chorus; Le Chant du monde, with Valery Rybin Male Choir), but usually with men's voices; here this simply but richly scored hymn blossoms even more fully, and right from the beginning our hearts, minds, and ears are set for what will be an enjoyable and enlightening hour.


There are some first-recordings, including Georgiy Izvekov's "festive canon for the Nativity of Christ". Izvekov, a Russian priest who was executed in 1937 for "anti-Soviet activities", offers a chant-based set of eight short hymn-like "odes" (plus a refrain) notable for their beautiful melodies and affecting, brilliant harmonies. The most-represented composer (five selections) is Alexander Kastalsky, who in the late-1800s/early-1900s was a major figure in the revival and continued development of Russian sacred music, until his and others' efforts were crushed by the Revolution. His Russian carol Shepherds of Bethlehem is a delightfully atmospheric evocation of the scene as the shepherds return home after viewing the Christ child "in a manger on the straw". (You can hear more of this fine composer on Volume 5 of Le Chant du Monde's Russian Religious Singing Through the Ages series, issued in the 1990s.)


And finally, I must mention just one more of many highlights: Vasyl Barvinskyi's Ukrainian carol Oh, What a Wonder!, with its gorgeous, soaring solo soprano above sumptuous, flowing choral harmonies. There's so much to savor here, much of it new to Western ears, all of it worthwhile and ideally recorded, thanks to Hillier and his always-outstanding Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. There's another piece on the disc, a Ukrainian carol that gives its name to the title of the CD: A New Joy. The choice couldn't be more appropriate. [10/3/2006]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Our Father by Nikolai Kedrov
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; USSR 
2.
Bogoroditse Devo by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; Estonia 
3.
Verses before the Six Psalms no 2: Glory to God in the highest by Alexandr Kastalsky
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
4.
Shepherds of Bethlehem by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Russia 
Notes: Arranger: Alexandr Kastalsky. 
5.
What a miracle by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Vasyl' Barvins'ky. 
6.
Today the Virgin by Alexandr Kastalsky
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
7.
The Angels exclaimed by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Kyril F. Stetsenko. 
8.
A New joy is in the air by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Kyril F. Stetsenko. 
9.
Bells Rang Early in Jerusalem by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Yakov Yatsinevich. 
10.
When Augustus Ruled Alone upon Earth by Alexandr Kastalsky
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
11.
Carol of the Bells by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Mykola D. Leontovich. 
12.
Throughout the World This News has Spread by Traditional
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Written: Ukraine 
Notes: Arranger: Kyril F. Stetsenko. 
13.
Children's Songs (16), Op. 54: no 5, Legend by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Russia 
14.
Christ Is Born by Georgiy Izvekov
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
15.
God is with us by Alexandr Kastalsky
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
16.
Blessed is the man by Anonymous
Conductor:  Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Period: Medieval 
Written: Russia 

Featured Sound Samples

Our Father (Kedrov)
God Is With Us (Kastalsky)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 A revelation! January 11, 2013 By Christian  B. (Price, UT) See All My Reviews "This CD turned out to be my favorite of the Christmas season. It is simply stunning music, performed flawlessly. While all the music retains that rich Russian orthodox sound, there is a joy and a lightness to all of these tunes that radiates Christmas spirit and avoids the heaviness that often attends Slavic church music. These songs are full of feeling and real spirituality without ever becoming overbearing or burdensome. To think of the tragic way many of these composers were suppressed and even gave their lives for the faith which inspired this music makes it all the more powerful. I also love the frequent use of the bells woven throughout. Thanks to Hillier for bringing this incredible music to light. And thanks to Hillier for printing the lyrics in Cyrilic instead of trying to transliterate them - never works well from Russian into English. I wish I had discovered Paul Hillier and his Estonian Philaharmonic Chamber Choir earlier, but thankfully I'm on to them now! I don't believe that you'll find a more beautiful or talented choral group out there. Oh, and the guy who sings basso profundo: awesome - get this CD just to listen to this guy hit the low notes. Simply amazing." Report Abuse
 Very appropriate title December 15, 2012 By Marilyn S. (Cudahy, WI) See All My Reviews "Most of the melodies are new to me as is the language being sung. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is entirely new to me and its sound is wondrous. I found myself listening more and more closely, especially to the men's voices. Such an incredible blending of so many levels of timbre creates a magnificent, rich sound. A new favorite. Thank you." Report Abuse
 If you love Russian Orthodox Church music, yes, p December 14, 2012 By Irene F Schreuder (Charlottesville, VA) See All My Reviews "Many years ago, in the 1980's, I listened to an "all Russian Christmas" during Christmas Eve; and, yes, on WETA. Unfortunately, this magnificent way to spend Christmas Eve was never repeated thereafter. This magnificent CD has touches of the Russian Orthodox Church music and I highly recommend this CD for those who love the typical Russian classics of this time." Report Abuse
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