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Silvestrov: Sacred Songs / Hobdych, Kiev Chamber Choir


Release Date: 10/16/2012 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001735902   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



SILVESTROV Songs for Vespers. Psalms and Prayers. Two Psalms of David. Two Spiritual Refrains. Two Spiritual Songs. Three Spiritual Song s Mykola Hobdych, cond; Kiev C Ch ECM 001735902 (72:00)


I’ve written several times now about the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937), one of the most recent Eastern European composers for whom ECM has taken up advocacy. Silvestrov is a composer whose richly tonal language is immediately appealing, but rich in subtlety as one Read more listens ever more closely. Though their sounds couldn’t be more different, I find myself thinking of him in relation to a contemporary, Gyrörgy Kurtág. Both are composers for whom the tiny perfected gesture is critical, and a tone of hushed intimacy leads to a very deep and private communion with the listener. This is a program of all a cappella works. The relation to the Orthodox liturgical tradition is immediately obvious (even to this reviewer, who doesn’t know its literature in any depth). But the music seems extremely personal, a reverential reinvention of tradition. How does Silvestrov do it?


The composer has an unusually personal conception of harmony. He often shifts from one mode and/or tonal root to another, but the effect is not like traditional common practice (or later chromatic) harmony. Rather, lines may “drift” from one region to another, almost as though they are crossfading into different harmonies. The effect should be like going out of tune, but it’s not. I wonder if it has something to do with traditional Ukrainian choral practice, but I’m not qualified to speculate here. And one way Silvestrov seems to accomplish this is by creating a sort of musical “reverb” around the more active material in a piece, by having sustained tones (mostly in vocalise) create shimmering pedals. This effect is further multiplied when put into an acoustically reverberant space. The resultant harmonic “aura” creates a musical space that is vast enough to accommodate these aforementioned shifts and drifts.


All this produces music that is luminous. The title of the disc is “Sacred Songs” and both words are relevant. The “sacred” is obvious, both in the subject matter of the texts and the general hushed tone. But these are also very much songs in form and tone, rather than more austere “liturgical vocal music.” Just a few examples: in the Psalms and Prayers and the Two Psalms of David, I hear harmonies and hooks that feel as though they’re coming from a celestial pop song tradition, and in the “Alleluia” of the Two Spiritual Refrains, there’s a softly insistent bass bourdon that undulates beneath the melody.


I’m reviewing from an advance release packet, and it does not include texts, the only mar to an otherwise perfect product; perhaps they will be in the final booklet. Silvestrov continues to demonstrate he’s not a one-shot wonder, nor does his music coast on a New Age mysticism. Very highly recommended, especially for those who want to experience the best of contemporary choral music.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1. Songs for Vespers by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2006; Russia 
Notes: 
1. Come, Let us Worship
2. World of Peace
3. Holy God
4. O Virgin Mother of God
5. Today You Release (Your Servant)
6. Many Years (Vivat)
7. Silent Night
 
2. Psalms and Prayers by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2007; Russia 
Notes: 
1. Praise God All Ye Nations (Psalm 116)
2. Lord, my Heart Swells not with Pride (Psalm 130)
3. Lord Jesus Christ
4. Blessed Is He (Psalm 1)
5. O King of Heaven
6. With the Saints Grant Eternal Peace
7. Our Father
 
3. Two Psalms of David by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Notes: 
1. To You, o Lord, I Call (Psalm 27)
2. The Lord Is my Shepherd (Psalm 22)
 
4. Spiritual Songs (2) by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: 
1. Cherubic Hymn
2. Many Years (Vivat) 
5. Spiritual Songs (3) by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Notes: 
1. Cherubic Hymn
2. Many Years (Vivat)
3. Alleluia
 
6. Spiritual Refrains (2) by Valentin Silvestrov
Conductor:  Mykola Hobdych
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kiev Chamber Chorus
Notes: 
1. Do not Forsake me
2. Alleluia
 

Sound Samples

Songs for Vespers: Come, Let Us Worship
Songs for Vespers: World Of Peace
Songs for Vespers: Holy God
Songs for Vespers: O Virgin Mother Of God
Songs for Vespers: Today You Release (Your Servant)
Songs for Vespers: Many Years (Vivat)
Songs for Vespers: Silent Night
Psalms and Prayers: Praise God All Ye Nations (Psalm 116)
Psalms and Prayers: Lord, My Heart Swells Not With Pride (Psalm 130)
Psalms and Prayers: Lord Jesus Christ
Psalms and Prayers: Blessed Is He (Psalm 1)
Psalms and Prayers: O King Of Heaven
Psalms and Prayers: With The Saints Grant Eternal Peace
Psalms and Prayers: Our Father
Two Psalms Of David (2007): To You, O Lord, I Call (Psalm 27)
Two Psalms Of David (2007): The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 22)
Two Spiritual Refrains (2008): Do Not Forsake Me
Two Spiritual Refrains (2008): Alleluia
Two Spiritual Songs (2007): Cherubic Hymn
Two Spiritual Songs (2007): Many Years (Vivat)
Three Spiritual Songs (2006): Cherubic Hymn
Three Spiritual Songs (2006): Many Years (Vivat)
Three Spiritual Songs (2006): Alleluia

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