When one speaks of Rachmaninoff’s music, it is usually with reference to his lush, romantic and quintessentially Russian concertos and symphonies. Against the background of what has been described as an ‘ambiguous’ relationship with the Orthodox Church, however, it is worth noting that the composer also produced a significant number of choral works throughout the course of his career – The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is one such example.
Having immersed himself in the task of learning to read medieval Russian musical notation, Rachmaninoff wrote the liturgy (which, in the case of the Orthodox Church, refers specifically to the Mass) in less than three weeks during the summer of 1910. Despite its successful premiere, the work was subsequently banned by the Holy Synod for being too modern and overtly expressive, and today it is largely overshadowed by the better-known Vespers of 1915. Brilliant Classics’ issue of the liturgy in 2CD format therefore presents a fantastic opportunity to acquire this striking but largely neglected masterpiece that is a fine testament to the late 19th and early 20th century nationalist attempts to revive traditional Russian chant. Richly scored in four-part harmony (a typical feature of sacred music from that time), it is impressively delivered here by the Russian State Symphony Capella under their esteemed director, Valery Polyansky.
- Booklet notes and complete sung texts
- Also includes recordings of Rachmaninoff’s shorter choral works O Mother of God vigilantly praying, Chorus of Spirits and Panteley the Healer
- Part of the MUSICA SACRA series