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Shchedrin’s hour-long The Sealed Angel, for flute and unaccompanied chorus, does not reproduce the narrative of the story by Nikolai Leskov of the same title; rather, it is music based on the story. In other words, the religious sentiment in Leskov’s story inspired Shchedrin to create a Russian liturgy on canonical Orthodox texts, in which there is much free referencing of traditional Russian church music. This CD offers a recording of the premiere, given in Moscow in 1989. The all-Russian forces sound generally at home in this material; while not all of the composer’s taxing writing is quite pulled offsuccessfully, the performance remains an impressive achievement. Best of all are the characteristically resonant Russian basses who underpin Shchedrin’s rich choral textures. However, the recorded sound is not perfectly balanced.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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