KYIV CHAMBER CHOIR
A THOUSAND YEARS OF UKRAINIAN RELIGIOUS MUSIC
A Thousand Years of Ukrainian Religious Music - portrays five dazzling musical eras: the Middle-Age, Baroque, Classicism, Romantism and the Contemporary.
The Epoch UKRAINIAN MIDDLE-AGES- XI-XVII centuries (tracks #1-5 on CD) was the longest. It dominated to the appearance of the first polyphonic compositions of the XVII century. Later, and after losing its priority status, middle-aged song did not disappear into oblivion or eternity, for it continued to reside in isolated Ukrainian monasteries. The first chant in the Divine Service were naturally monodic in nature. In these times, and when the Gregorian Chorals of Western Ukraine were leading all musical spheres, the monodies of the Middle-Ages were being founded (XI century). In the early stages these were pure Byzantine chants, but upon finding the blessed foundation of a singing.
Ukrainian nation, and through the slow process of simulation into Ukrainian and into the elements of its folklore and melodies, there agreeably appeared its first individual chants and refrains, as authored by anonymous monks.
This disc presents five unique monodies, the most ancient of them dating to the XII century. But what differentiates the Ukrainian Church Monody from the Gregorian Chants? Firstly, their melodies. On this disc, monodies are performed in solo form with isometrics (and resilient pedals, which are able to change their sound levels). This differs to the strict Gregorian style, as these monodies are more individual and freedom loving, yet not straying from their prescribed borders and framework. Even in the cyclical times in which musical elements appeared with structured endings, unfolding and developing dramatics, same were not only performed within the context of a Divine Liturgy, but also sought out and attained their right of an independent existence. Such tendencies were also seen and retained in other musical eras and spheres, and to when the time came to replace the anonymous authors with a improved musical cultures of there time.
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In the XVII century the plentiful musical spheres of Ukraine underwent a revolution - when in a change to the many years of one tone monodies came the multi-voiced, or polyphonic chant(music in parts), from which began the epoch of UKRAINIAN BAROQUE (tracks #6-7 on the disk). This event united and presented musical history the most notable names of the Slavic world, namely - Mykola Diletsky (1630? - 1690?). Himself of Kyievan origins, he obtained brilliant levels of learning from the Vilnius Jesuit academy attaining the honorary title of Academic. Diletsky created the first
Eastern European theoretical dissertation on "The Grammar of Music", in which he presented the origins of musical theory, composition and aesthetics. This disc presents the composer's most eminent creation - "Resurrection Canon"-Heirmos 1;3;6;7;9 - a picturesque Easter Pascha fresco based on the texts of St.John Damascene as written in dazzling concert style.
One more dazzling presenter of Ukrainian baroque was - Simeon Pekalytsky 1630-?) - composer, singer, choral conductor and director of many well known church choirs in Chernihiv, Lviv and also the Moscow Court kapella. This disc presents fragments from the Divine Liturgy - " Cherubic Hymn" - which are choral compositions for two church choirs, as formed in vocal harmony and for antiphonal choirs, solo trios and for full voices Tutti.
Epoch CLASSICISM (tracks #8-10)- (second half of XVIII century) - the golden era of Ukraine. In a change to the monumentality of Baroque came refinement, intimacy, tenderness and the suave. The works and creations of such eminent masters, like Berezovsky, Bortiansky and Vedel took the Ukrainian choir culture into a new orbit, which even until now continue to be received as a specific aesthetic ideal, and organically
supplementing and complimenting the history of European classicism.
Maksym Berezovsky(1745?-1777) - academic of the Bolonsky Philharmonic Academy, student of the famous pedagogue padre Martini, the creator of classicism in Ukraine. The influence of Berezovsky within musical culture is so great, that two great nations – the Ukrainian and Russian, both see him as the creator and founder of their professional schools of learning. And yet a tragic fate befell upon this person: unemployed and unknown in imperial Petersburg after his Italian triumphs, and after several years of disregard, aged 32 Berezovsky's suicide ended his life…… This disc presents the compositional works of Berezovsky - his Eucharistic verse "Praise the Lord" (extract from the 10 part Communion cycle) - which in a small and unmeasured way, and through its composition one immediately feels the hand of the great master's polyphony, thematic, beautiful intonations, which draws near in form and content to choral concerts.
Dmitry Bortiansky (1751-1825) also received a brilliant education in Italy. Upon his return to Russia Bortinansky was appointed to the post of Kapellmeister, and in agreement - the first director of the Petersburg choral kapella. He developed Berezovsky's originally founded genre of the cyclical choir concert, and organically united the traditional Ukrainian and Western-European choral cultures.
Amongst his spiritual works the most popular are his 35 choral concerts. This disc presents his work – Easter Concert No.34 " Let God Arise" (Psalm 68), which glaringly reminds us of the early composer's concerts with feelings of an Italian influence. This concert though not great in size is extremely dazzling and extremely well known in the Slavic musical world.
Artem Vedel (1767-1808) - the most enchanting star of Ukraine, an eminent composer, beautiful choral conductor, dazzling singer (tenor), and violin virtuoso. So much talent in one person and yet a a life filled with a tragic fate. At 32 years of age and full of creative thoughts and knowledge he was arrested on falsified political charges and imprisoned in an institution for nine dreadful years. His creative legacy was not fully preserved, and yet the elements and parts uncovered as of today cannot fail to impress: 28 choir concerts, 2 Divine Liturgies, The All-Night Vigil. Recorded here on this disc is the concert - " Thou art my strength O Lord "- the composer's lyrical confession, laconic and extraordinarily noble in style.
Ukrainian choir culture from the middle of the XIX century elevated itself to a new levels of quality - from which was born ROMANTICISM (tracks #11-14 on the disk), which ties itself to the boisterous wave of national rebirth. The choir creations of this era thus provide glorious feelings, sensitivity and the influence of national
folklore, harmonious language which enriches itself with the specifics of national harmony, and the addition of a unique beauty from its melodies. Ukrainian romanticism created a whole pleiad of well-known composers: Lysenko, Leontovych, Stetsenko, Yatsenevych.
The foundation of the new national compositional school became Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) - composer, choir conductor, pianist and pedagogue. He attained a dazzling education from the Leipzig Conservatoire. He influenced the
formation of all the composers at the beginning of the last century.
The religious music of Lysenko is not such a well-known page in the activity and diligence
of the composer. Only towards the end of his life did the composer turn to Church music. Sadly, not many of his works were uncovered. The Bolshevik 1917 Revolution and its ideology ruined almost all the composer's religious music works. Only one works was uncovered - "Liturgy" - the beautiful "Cherubic Hymn", and several psalms and cants. We propose on this disc his concert "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me " (Ps.138:7-10) - his most extraordinary creation from the works uncovered as of today. This glittering stage of human worry and survival is full of sensitivity and worldly influences which organically transmits the religious spirit of his nation.
Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) - lived a short life, but dazzling life. He witnessed the tragic events at the beginning of the 20th century - the First World
War and the Socialist Revolution, in which he tempestuously poured himself into the national-independence movement - and the formation of the Ukrainian National Republic and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Bolsheviks murdered Leontovych in his own home aged 44 years, and at time when his talents and knowledge were flourishing, and yet he left behind almost 50 church music compositions. This Compact disc has recorded one of his most eminent and well known creations - "In Thy Kingdom" (a fragment from the Divine Liturgy), which became a true masterpiece and is still sung and heard during the Divine Liturgy, as well as in concert halls.
Kyrylo Stetsenko (1882-1922)(listen to the track #13) - priest, composer, choir director. For his national-independence activities and consciousness he was exiled from Kyiv. He died of typhus, as the only way to relieve his many punishments. The religious music works of the composer have become a major and one extraordinary phenomenon in Ukrainian Culture (two Liturgies, The All-Night Vigil, Memorial Service). This CD propose the composer's - "The Lord's Prayer" (fragment from the Liturgy) - and one of its central pieces and the original hymn to the Creator, which impresses with its beauty, depth and style of feeling.
Yakiv Yatsenevych (1869-1945) - composer, choral conductor, folklorist. His life pre the 1917 revolution was fully devoted to and associated with the Church:- teaching at the St.Sofia Seminary and Kyivan spiritual Academy, a choir director and conductor of the Mychajlivskij Cathedral choir - the best at that time. After the revolution Yatsenevych actively involved himself in the Creation of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, in honour of which he scored his most well-known work – the beautiful "Liturgy". And yet the composer's talent and experience was proclaimed a non-necessity by the political cults of that time, as they did not see the composer as a shining light of their ideology. Yatsenevych in searching for work existed and sojourned the many places of Eastern Ukraine, and towards the end of his life settled in the Caucuses. His last and final place of
work became a guard a the collective orchard in the Krasnodar region, where he died far from the Fatherland. On this disc we hear his famous "Cherubic Hymn" , as his musical missive for future generations.
Afterwards, the History of Ukrainian Religious Music entered into a proclaimed period of silence, which remained during the whole period of the totalitarian Soviet Regime. This silent period embraced several generations (and almost 70 years), during which were lost forever the deciphered and ancient musical manuscripts, so ending the research and investigation into ancient musicality, which led to the inability for professional composers to create, perfect their genres or perform national religious music. It seemed that all was lost. But the fall of the Soviet Union and Empire and the building of the Ukrainian Independent State quickly shook the nation and its musical intelligentsia - and so began a rapid and tempestuous epoch of renaissance. For the musical experts, monasteries as well as Church musical archives were opened, and access given to hand-written library works, fortunately not destroyed by the previous regime. In certain regions of Ukraine musical and choral collections were organised by new choir collectives, who found and uncovered church masterpieces of previous eras within the restoration of Ukrainian Churches.
Ukraine slowly began to revive its spiritual traditions. The high aesthetic principles of religious music could not neglect contemporary artistes. For in a short period of time there arose a new compositional scholl, which became both the inheritors, and the continuants of all Ukraine's previous musical history. Today, all Ukrainian professional composers score religiousl music.
UKRAINIAN CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOUS MUSIC (tracks #15-18 on the CD)- is another golden era of national culture. This disc presents four, and the most well known contemporary composers, and who were all former students of the famous composer Boris Liatoshynskij (1894-1968), who also experienced Bolshevik repressions.
Lesia Dychko (born 1939) - the first Ukrainian composer, who opened the curtain, closed words and speak in the genre of religious music. Her three Liturgies - were not only a major event in Ukrainian culture, but also within the entire Slavic world. Her last "Triumphant Liturgy" - is a unique vessel of unity of previous epochs with today. We propose on this disc two of her compositions - "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" and "Mnohaya Lita-Many Happy Years" - a baroque-monumental finale and fragment from the "Triumphant Liturgy".
Evhen Stankovych (born 1942) - a composer who immersed himself in the eternal philosophical truth within the Holy Bible, and who in one breath created three unparalleled Psalms of David, and a spiritual concert (year 2000). In agreement the world saw his beautiful " Liturgy". At present he is working on the "All Night Vigil", based on the music of the middleages. The aesthetics of worldly sorrows through musical expression by Stankovych is an extraordinary characterisation of Ukrainian Spirituality. This disc plays a fragment from the Liturgy "Bless O Lord", which creates an expression of some misunderstood levels of feeling derived from worldly acceptances of the composer.
Myroslav Skoryk (born 1938) - a founded aesthete, extremely humble in his stylistic-dramatically levels. During the War Years his whole family was repressed by the Bolsheviks and deported to the camps of Siberia. His religious genre reated three Psalms, a spiritual concert and a Liturgy. He successfully united tradition with modernism into dazzlingly sung melodies yet showing a titanic feeling to the aesthetics of Ukrainian Romanticism, furthermore releasing a new and original level of musical originality pertaining to self-expression. This disc presents a
fragment from the Liturgy "A Mercy of Peace" -which fully presents a creative account of thecomposer.
Valentyn Sylvestrov (born 1937) - lyrical poet, and a representative the political movement known as the "Shishedeciatnyky -The Sixties movement", and
one of the movement who was repressed by Soviet ideology for his lack of "nationhood" in his creations. Always existing in avant-garde musical spaces, he rapidly seized onto poetry as based on the liturgical texts of St. John Chrysostom, and in a short time (less than one year) he created near on ten spiritual cycles (over 40 works). The musical world of Sylvesytrov is an absolutely different form of expression, as uttered through the creation of "his own acoustics", and individual conduct as to space and time. This disc presents a fragment of the "Dyptych" and "The Lord's Prayer", which are based on canonical texts.
Ukrainians and Ukraine - one of the world's prominent singing nations. With enormous blessings they preserve their God given uniqueness and respect for ancient traditions, which has always been wonderment and somewhat astonishing to foreigners, and which covers Ukraine in much Glory. Ukraine's Thousand Years of Spiritual Culture long ago passed beyond its borderland, where it stands and has always stood as a priceless contribution to world culture.
This CD includes 30 pages booklet in English, German, Franch and Ukrainian.