Alexander Kastalsky Requiem a major — and important — release

To me, this is the epitome of a major release. It’s a world premiere recording of a major work with an assemblage of all-stars. Alexander Kastalsky’s Commemoration for Fallen Brothers honors the casualties of the First World Way with a universal message.
Kastalsky began work on this massive work in 1914 and completed it in 1917 when Russia withdrew from the war. Only part of the requiem was performed during Kastalsky’s lifetime. The new Soviet state suppressed all forms of religious expression — including requiems.

The world premiere of the complete work occurred a century later, during the Centennial of the First World War. Kastalsky’s work is both ambitious and massive — and it works on every level.

He wrote that the music depicts a memorial ceremony with representatives from Russia and her allies — France, Britain, and Serbia. Kataslky used liturgical music and the native language of each country to depict the representatives approaching the memorial to lay their wreaths.

Kastalsky was a student of Tchaikovsky. His orchestrations are rich and evocative. The harmonies underscore the power of the words and sustain the reverent mood throughout the 64-minute work.

And what a collection of artists! The assembled choir includes the Clarion Choir, which specializes in Slavonic repertoire, and the Saint Tikhon Choir, the choir of American’s oldest Orthodox Christian monastery. There’s also the Cathedral Choral Society of the Washington National Cathedral; and the Kansas City Chorale, which won Grammys for their recordings of Grechinov’s Passion Week and Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil.

The Orchestra of St. Lukes’ is directed by Leonard Slatkin. And this live recording in the National Cathedral was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, winner of multiple Grammys for choral and orchestral recordings.

The singing is simply flawless. And there’s a luminous quality to the blended voices that reinforces the spirituality of the music. The sound of the voices and instruments filling the vaulted space of the cathedral is incredibly beautiful. And the performances deliver time and again. Each country’s religious expression sounds true and authentic, each conveying deep emotion.

This is indeed the epitome of a major release.

Alexander Kastalsky: Requiem for Fallen Brothers
Anna Dennis, soprano; Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone
Cathedral Choral Society; the Clarion Choir; the Saint Tikhon Choir; Kansas City Chorale
Orchestra of St. Luke’s; Leonard Slatkin, conductor

More Recent Posts

  • Mark & Raianne go track by track through Road May Rise, May 20

    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards will stop by WTJU May 20, during Folk & Beyond to go track by track through their latest album, Road May Rise, out now on vinyl.  Folk & Beyond is heard Thursday afternoon from 4-7 (edt) at 91.1 FM, streaming at, or by asking your smart speaker to “Play […]

  • Host Profile: Brian Keena

    Name: Brian Keena Show: The Jazz Messenger, Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. What’s your day job? Licensed Massage Therapist How long have you been a host at WTJU? 15 years Why did you become a WTJU host? I’ve always enjoyed good radio. Hosts that care about the music. Or hosts that have a story […]

  • #ClassicsaDay #APAHM Week 2

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    May is designated Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The Classics a Day team adopted that theme as well. For the month of May, the challenge is to post examples of classical music composed or performed by artists who share that heritage. I limited myself to just posting Asian-American composers. And discovered a seemingly limitless number of […]

  • Marking COVID Remembrance Day on May 25

    This year, radio stations around the country are marking May 25 as COVID Remembrance Day. Several WTJU hosts will mark the occasion by airing the music of some artists who have passed away. We’ve all gone through a very difficult year. And while it’s not over, here at WTJU, we want to take a moment […]

  • WTJU 91.1 FM to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

    WTJU 91.1 FM has been approved for a $20,000 Arts Education grant to support the development of an online jazz history curriculum. Adapted from WTJU’s Jazz at 100 radio series, this project will creatively engage students around the unique story and passion of jazz music. WTJU’s project is among the more than 1,100 projects across […]