Sacred Love features the music of three Russian composers – Yuri Falik, Arturs Maskats, and Georgy Sviridov. And not just those composers, but choral works based on Russian poetry or literature by those three composers.
It’s apt repertoire for the Latvian Radio Choir. The performers speak the language, and are steeped in the Russian choral tradition. The basses, of course, extend lower than they do in Western choirs, providing an anchor for the sound. The ensemble is immaculately recorded, well-positioned in a church to reap the benefit of the spacious acoustics while retaining clear articulation.
While the program has a homogeneous sound, there are distinct differences between the three composers. Falik seems the most cosmopolitan of the three. His “Habanera,” for example is Spanish in flavor, while retaining the Eastern European choral sound.
Maskats was heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, and particularly by their choral works. Some of his music reminded me of the Rachmaninov Vespers in spirituality as well as sound.
Sviridov studied under Shostakovich, and one can hear a little of his teacher’s style in his work. The selections include both sacred and secular compositions by Sviridov. The sacred follow Eastern Orthodox choral traditions, while the secular (to my ears) sound more Soviet Realist — folk-based material presented in a conservative 20th Century style.
Sacred Love has an overarching beauty and serenity to it. I’d recommend this recording not just to those who enjoy Eastern European choral music, but for anyone who is moved by the sound of the human voice.
Sacred Love: Yuri Falik, Arturs Maskats, Georgy Sviridov
Latvian Radio Choir; Sigvards Klava, conductor; Aleksandrs Antonenko, tenor; Ieva Ezeriete, soprano