Alexander Shchetynsky - Sacred Music From Ukraine

Published Sunday 10th April 2011
Alexander Shchetynsky - Sacred Music From Ukraine
Alexander Shchetynsky - Sacred Music From Ukraine

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Naxos 21st Century Classics 8579005

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Had I played this without looking at the title I would have guessed that this beautiful music came from Russia, so I hope that our Ukrainian readers will forgive me. This is an atmospheric recording, bringing to mind vast empty skies over slow moving rivers and with a hint of cold weather to come. If you want musical points of contact then this reminds me of Tavener in his Orthodox days or Part, particularly when the bells start to chime in "Light To Lighten (Svit vo Oktkroveniye)" which brings to mind "Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten". The Ukrainian composer Alexander Shchetynsky was born in 1960 (while Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union). He writes music of haunting luminosity and sublime spirituality. Within a framework of rhythmic and structural flexibility, each of the three works heard on this recording is a synthesis of a multitude of musical styles, as well as of secular and sacred traditions, conveyed in a uniquely personal voice. These include old and new Orthodox Church chant, Ukrainian song melodies, Gregorian Chant, early polyphony, Baroque, 19th-century operatic melodies and innovative 20th-century compositional techniques. This description, lifted from the blurb on the CD cover, makes the music sound muddled which it most certainly is not. He seems to know exactly where he is going and his writing is melodic and often moving. The two choirs featured on this recording sing their a cappella pieces beautifully and the Leopolis Chamber Orchestra who perform on "Requiem For Mixed Choir And Chamber Orchestra" add to the occasion. This is well worth investigating.

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