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Raskatov’s music balances the high modernism of the Second Viennese School with the vernacular simplicity of Modest Mussorgsky. In Obikhod, first performed a decade ago, he draws on material from the Orthodox book of common chants and follows the eight-mode system set down for liturgical material. It’s very much concerned with the passing nature of life. The orchestra is heavily and darkly scored, often used rhythmically as well as for modal underpinning. Praise from 1998 is rather different, but with a similarly bold treatment of text and voice, its liturgical components sustained and transcended by the Hilliards’ rigorously disciplined performance and by an optional part for bells which again underlines and to a degree subverts the Church origins of the material. An exceptional recording. The Hilliards also feature in two tracks on In Search Of The Miraculous (Louth Contemporary Music Society LCMS 1301), a CD of mainly instrumental music from as far afield as Lebanon, Armenia and Ireland. If the aim of the recording is to create an air of the numinous and mysterious, Vache Sharafyan’s Tsov Kentsaghuis (‘The sea of our life is troubling me’), with its tape part shadowing the Hilliard voices, is the most completely satisfying single item on the set.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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