Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards K?ava
During the last decade, the recordings of sacred vocal works released on Ondine by the Latvian Radio Choir under their director Sigvards K?ava have gathered outstanding reviews and gathered several awards. This impressive cycle of recordings continue with a new album of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s (1840-1893) sacred works.
In 1877, Tchaikovsky wrote in a letter to Nadezhda von Meck: “I often go to the public worship; in my opinion, the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is one of the greatest works of art… Oh, I love all that terribly, it is one of my greatest pleasures.” Tchaikovsky enjoyed attending worship services, visited them regularly and always showed interest in sacred music, especially in the music of the Orthodox Church. Already relatively early in his career, in 1875, he issued “A short textbook of harmony, adapted to the reading of spiritual and musical compositions in Russia”, which in 1881 was approved as a textbook of church singing in theological seminaries and colleges. The same year, Tchaikovsky started editing the works of Dmitry Bortnyansky, a pioneer of sacred Orthodox music. However, he encountered problems with various institutions – the Imperial Chapel, the censorship authorities, as well as some conservative church officials who were more comfortable with smaller-caliber composers to whom they could have more authority when needed. Tchaikovsky wished to reform sacred Orthodox music but at the same to draw inspiration from the traditions of past centuries. Prime example of this is Tchaikovsky’s monumental work in sacred Orthodox music, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41. The Nine Sacred Choruses were written some years later. This work is not a cycle in the basic meaning of the word, but rather a collection, and another affirmation of Tchaikovsky’s skills as one of the greatest composers of Orthodox sacred music.
The Latvian Radio Choir (LRC) ranks among the top professional chamber choirs in Europe and its refined taste for musical material, fineness of expression and vocal of unbelievably immense compass have charted it as a noted brand on the world map. The repertoire of LRC ranges from the Renaissance music to the most sophisticated scores by modern composers; and it could be described as a sound laboratory – the singers explore their skills by turning to the mysteries of traditional singing, as well as to the art of quartertone and overtone singing and other sound production techniques. The choir has established a new understanding of the possibilities of a human voice; one could also say that the choir is the creator of a new choral paradigm: every singer is a distinct individual with his or her own vocal signature and roles in performances.
Sigvards K?ava is one of the most outstanding Latvian conductors, also a professor of conducting and producer, music director of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992. As a result of Sigvards Klava’s steady efforts, the Latvian Radio Choir has become an internationally recognized, vocally distinctive collective, where each singer possesses a creative individuality. Under Sigvards’ guidance, the choir has recorded a number of choral works by little known or completely forgotten composers of the past, as well as formed a friendly collaboration with a number of notable Latvian composers. Sigvards Klava is a professor at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music. Klava is a multiple winner of the Latvian Great Music Award.
Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op. 41
w/Karlis Rutentals (tenor), Gundars Dzilums (bass)
Nine Sacred Choruses (1884–85)
w/Agnese Urka (soprano), Agate Burkina (soprano), Dace Strautmane (alto)
Tsjaikovski schreef ooit in een brief: “Ik woon geregeld een mis bij. De liturgie van de heilige Johannes Chrysostomus is één van de meest verheven kunstwerken.“ Tsjaikovski genoot van het bijwonen van erediensten. Hij wilde de orthodox-orthodoxe muziek hervormen, maar tegelijkertijd inspiratie putten uit de tradities van de afgelopen eeuwen. Zo ook in zijn Liturgie van St. John Chrysostomos, Op. 41. Daarnaast staan op deze cd De negen heilige koren. Deze verzameling is een ander voorbeeld van de vaardigheden van Tsjaikovski als een van de grootste componisten van orthodoxe geestelijke muziek. Op dit album worden deze werken uitgevoerd door het bekroonde Letse Radio Koor onder leiding van Sigvards Klava.