STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 168315-26434 LABEL: Regent REGCD513 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
I was not expecting this. Having recorded four CDs dedicated to French music during the first 10 years of the Maîtrise de Toulouse's existence, this programme takes this world-class choir in a new direction, eastwards into Slavic Europe. From the title and atmospheric cover picture I was expecting perhaps Béla Bartók from Hungary and then a list of Russian composers that would break my spell-checker. What I did not know was that as well as representing the origins of many of the featured composers Slava is the Russian word for glory and also the familiar name of the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki wrote "Ize Cheruvimy" ("Chant Of The Cherubim") to celebrate his 60th birthday and which is included here. All the pieces presented are indeed by composers from Eastern Europe, most significantly the Russian, Igor Stravinsky and the Hungarian, Zoltán Kodály. Kodály's Hungarian contemporaries, Lajos Bárdos and Béla Bartók are also featured and the programme is completed by two Poles, Krzysztof Penderecki and Paweł Łukaszewski, whose "Ubi Caritas" was commissioned by the Maîtrise for this recording. The programme contains works for both full choir and upper voice choir, both sacred and secular, sung in Latin, Church Slavonic, Hungarian and Russian. The singing seems exemplary throughout although there are points where my Saxon ears are not quite certain that the harmonies are correct. However we are prepared to take the choir's founder and director Mark Opstad's word on this: if he says it is right then I am sure it is. I particularly enjoyed Igor Stravinsky's "Mass for choir and double wind quintet" and Bartók's "Children's choruses" but there is nothing that is not worth hearing and much that I shall return to with pleasure in the future.
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