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Ravishingly Russian

Ravishingly Russian

The Houston Chamber Choir, under the direction of Robert Simpson, has produced a sparkling new CD that showcases the little-known area of Russian secular choral music. That the secular choral music of Russia receives less attention from performers than its sacred counterpart can be explained by the fact that sacred titles outnumber the secular by a ratio of approximately 80 to 20. Yet many of the composers who are best known for their sacred choral works, e.g. Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kalinnikov, and others, wrote lovely secular part-songs as well, as this CD demonstrates. Others, such as Arensky, Cui, Dargomyzhsky, and Taneyev, are known primarily for their secular choruses, which deserve a great deal more attention than they've received to this time. Finally, the CD taps the unexplored wealth of Soviet-era choral songs (represented by Salmanov, Falik, and Gavrilin), written during a time when sacred music was severely suppressed.

"Ravishing is right. The choir’s idiomatic pronunciation, smooth ensemble work and generally excellent intonation serve the music with just the right amount of style and class.
- Laurence Vittes, Gramophone

The singing is top-of-the-line, with all the requisite elements coming together in gracious service to this unfamiliar fare.
- American Record Guide

Tracks

  1. The Storm Has Wrapped the Sky in Darkness by Alexander Dargomyzhsky
  2. The Ruins of the Tower by Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915)
  3. Panteley the Healer by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  4. Evening by Sergei Taneyev
  5. Behold, Shadows Have Fallen by Sergei Taneyev
  6. Hidden Beauty by Cesar Cui
  7. Nocturne by Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
  8. The Upas Tree by Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
  9. Song by Vadim Salmanov (1912-1978)
  10. The Golden Cloud by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  11. Unknown Lady by Yuri Falik
  12. The Skylark by Viktor Kalinnikov (1870-1927)
  13. Elegy by Viktor Kalinnikov (1870-1927)
  14. The Nightingale by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  15. Kangaroo by Sergei Ekimov (b. 1974)
  16. Vocalise by Alexander Rom (b. 1952)
  17. Nonsense (from Chimes) by Valery Gavrilin (1939-1999)

Reviews

The Houston Chamber Choir's achievement is formidable, reflecting a depth of exploration and an intelligent interpretation of a foreign culture's choral repertoire that clearly demonstrates a great deal of love and enthusiasm on the part of the director and his singers. The musically convincing results offer a great reward both to the performers and the listener. To choral conductors, this CD will offer a wealth of programming ideas, while to lovers of beautiful, first-rate choral singing, it will provide a most enjoyable and enduring listening experience.

—Vladimir Morosan, Musica Russica


... a fine anthology that explores the little-known area of Russian secular choral part-songs.

Musica Russica (2011)