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The texts throughout this disc come from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Only four tracks are devoted to settings of the actual Liturgy. As always, the singing from the North German Radio Choir is impressive: it has worked with a distinguished line of conductors over its 70 years of existence, and under Philipp Ahmann continues to enhance its reputation. The choir’s ability to maintain sustained, controlled, expressive lines ranging from the merest whisper of pianissimo to a subtle crescendo is remarkable, as is the breath control required to achieve this. The overall mood of the music is one of solemnity and there is little light shining through, although at the time the composer was aiming to introduce more freedom into writing music for the Orthodox Church. Today Tchaikovsky is not usually regarded as a pioneer, but in this respect he is.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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