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ICMA, January 2020

This CD highlights Tchaikovsky’s role as an innovator of Orthodox music. The Latvian Chamber Choir sings Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and other sacred works with an angelic purity and brightness that emphasizes the universality of the music. The harmonies seem to glow and the melodies create a long, intense arc that combines beauty, spirituality and passion. © 2020 ICMA

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, January 2020

Follow the singers, for example, through Tchaikovsky’s Credo in Part IV of the Liturgy From triumphal outbursts to quiet meditations to staunch assertions to glistening pianissimos: the tenets of the faith are expressed with admirable attention to emotional detail. Textures may grow thick and harmonies imposingly vertical, yet diction remains crystal clear. And all of that extends into the 9 Sacred Choruses. Ondine contributes velvety acoustics in the expanses of St John’s Church in Riga and a booklet of demonstration quality. In sum, this is a side of Tchaikovsky worth getting to know, and no finer recording of it exists. © 2020 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Richard A. Kaplan
Fanfare, January 2020

The Latvian Radio Choir is a professional chorus that for the most part does justice to Tchaikovsky’s choral writing… Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy is quite a different work with the chants and responses, and I prefer to hear it that way, but if you don’t have the patience for that, this is a fine version of the choruses. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review

Zev Kane
WQXR (New York), December 2019

The Best Classical Recordings of 2019

Despite being deeply pious, Tchaikovsky’s efforts to write sacred music were suppressed by the Orthodox Church. As the gorgeous voices of the Latvian Radio Choir attest again and again on this phenomenal recording, which contains Tchaikovsky’s most substantial liturgical work, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: their loss. © 2019 WQXR (New York)

John Marks
Positive Feedback Online, October 2019

…The recording venue (St. John’s Church, Riga, Latvia) and the engineering are really first rate. …The Latvian Radio Choir is a chamber choir of 24 members, and there is an argument to be made that that is more like the forces Tchaikovsky had in mind.

Highly recommended! © 2019 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Ivan Moody
Gramophone, September 2019

The atmosphere and context—music as extraordinary religious expression—is magisterially conveyed here by a choir on top form, with sound engineering that captures them perfectly. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

James Manheim, August 2019

…The lighter sounds of the 24-voice Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Klava seem ideal here, probably resembling the Moscow art societies that first performed the music, and more likely in keeping with the spirit in which Tchaikovsky composed it. … Ondine’s sound engineering, at St. John’s church in Riga, is absolutely exemplary. An exceptional choral release. © 2019 Read complete review

Charles T. Downey
Ionarts, June 2019

Sigvards Kļava conducts the shortened version of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, made for concert performance with only some of the prayers for the celebrant and deacon, sung beautifully here by tenor Kārlis Rūtentāls and bass Gundars Dziļums, respectively. It is remarkable that this piece sounds so little like what most listeners likely expect from Tchaikovsky, reflecting the composer’s belief that music for the Russian Orthodox service should reflect a more austere idiom.

There is greater musical interest frankly in the motets grouped together in the collection Nine Sacred Pieces. The affecting setting of Da ispravitsya (Hear my prayer) is particularly gorgeous, especially the sections for three angelic women’s voices, here sung by sopranos Agnese Urka and Agate Burkina, plus alto Dace Strautmane. © 2019 Ionarts Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2019

Always residing in the shadow of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, I hope this revelatory new recording will take Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy to its rightful place. Of all the great additions to the religious music of the East European Orthodox celebration, this one captured the mystery and reverence due on such an occasion. It has the good fortune of a performance from the Latvian Radio Choir, an ensemble that I would place high among a handful of important choruses around the world. It possesses those intrinsic deep ‘Russian’ basses on which female voices add such a wide spectrum of sonorities, the passages that require the high sopranos to crown climatic moments bringing a golden glory. There are also passages of hushed reverence where we have so much beauty to complete the range of emotions Tchaikovsky captured, The Lords Prayer section, having a quiet and unadorned reverence. The Latvian ensemble number about twenty, the size of a modest church choir that keeps the sound open and detailed, while the voices are individually of such quality as to create a wealth of power when called upon. Six years later, in 1884, Tchaikovsky brought together Nine Sacred Choruses (or Pieces), each being intended for individual use, and as such are of a more diverse content. There is a warmth embedded into the first of three Cherubic Hymns, and there is a jewel in Da ispravitsya (Hear My Prayer) for female trio and answering chorus. The conductor, Sigvards Klava, moulds his performances throughout with a care and lucidity that is his hallmark, while the recorded sound, made earlier this year, has an ideal church acoustic. Fervently recommended. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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