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Alfred Schnittke – Penitential Psalms – RIAS Kammerchor, Hans-Christoph Rademann (2016) [eClassical 24-48]

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Alfred Schnittke – Twelve Penitential Psalms, Three Sacred Hymns – RIAS Kammerchor, Hans-Christoph Rademann (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 54:35 minutes |  514 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © Harmonia Mundi

Alfred Schnittke’s Penitential Psalms are not settings of biblical psalms, but of a set of Old Russian texts published not long before Schnittke wrote these a cappella pieces in 1988. They are less eclectic in style than many of this composer’s other works, drawing on the tradition of Russian Orthodox church music, with its dense harmonies, that matches the text. The work was composed for an event marking the 1,000th anniversary of the advent of Christianity in Russia, and it has a nifty double structure. Its central text is that of the sixth psalm (sample track 6), describing the martyrdom of Boris and Gleb, the sons of the baptized founder Grand Prince Vladimir during the Kievan Rus. The other texts are gloomy meditations circling around this event, but also gaining in inner intensity. The second trajectory emerges at the end in mostly hummed Pslam No. 12, as if the spiritual experience involved has transcended language. The performances by the RIAS Kammerchor under Hans-Christoph Rademann are wonderful throughout, but in this demanding piece, with high notes sustained at very low volumes, they’re sublime. The simpler Three Spiritual Songs at the end of the album bring down the considerable tension effectively, and Harmonia Mundi’s engineering at Berlin’s Jesus-Christus-Kirche is impressive indeed. Schnittke fans have an added attraction here: Rademann contributes a note explaining how the performers have revised the commonly used score in favor of dynamics they believe more closely match Schnittke’s own intentions. But this is a worthwhile Schnittke album for anyone interested in the composer or in contemporary choral music in general. ~~ AllMusic Review by James Manheim

Tracklist:
Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)
Zwölf Bußverse für gemischten Chor a capella
Twelve Penitential Psalms / Douze Psaumes de pénitence
1 Nr.1. Adam saß vor dem Paradies und weinte 3:05
2 Nr.2. Es nimmt mich die Wüste auf wie die Mutter ihr Kind 4:09
3 Nr.3. Weshalb lebe ich in Armut 3:21
4 Nr.4. Meine Seele, warum befindest du dich in Sünden 2:16
5 Nr.5. O Mensch – verdammt und armselig 3:02
6 Nr.6. Als sie sahen das Schiff 2:18
7 Nr.7. O meine Seele, warum hast du keine Angst 5:26
8 Nr.8. Wenn du die Zeitlosigkeit der Trauer überwinden willst 2:02
9 Nr.9. Über mein Leben als das eines Geistlichen habe ich nachgedacht 7:20
10 Nr.10. Sammelt euch, ihr christlichen Menschen! 3:27
11 Nr.11. Ich bin in dieses elende Leben gekommen 3:57
12 Nr.12. (mit geschlossenem Mund) 7:35
Drei geistliche Gesänge für achtstimmigen gemischten Chor
Three Sacred Hymns / Trois Hymnes sacrés
13 I. Gegrüßet seist du, Jungfrau, Mutter Gottes 1:35
14 II. Herr Jesus, Sohn Gottes 1:34
15 III. Vater unser 3:21

Personnel:
RIAS Kammerchor – Vocal ensemble
Hans-Christoph Rademann – Conductor

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