Alexander Levine's inspired setting of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is recognizably modern, though it is still solidly rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition and carries in its sublime moods and sonorities the spirituality and mysticism of the Eastern Church. Levine's composition follows canonical usage, with some changes from convention (some texts usually sung by the priest are given to the choir) the music is full of the textures and rhythmic flow of Russian church music, which Levine has clearly internalized. He has produced a monumental work that has sustained expressive power and a strong historical feeling, notwithstanding the unusually voiced chords, layered dissonances, and echoic effects, which are at times reminiscent of the choral music of Arvo Pärt and John Taverner. Levine has had great success with this work: Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Choir have performed it annually for Easter, and Tenebrae has recorded it here, under the direction of Nigel Short. The voices are texturally rich and reverberant, and the writing for deep basses gives the music its most powerful resonance with the past. Devotees of meditative choral music will find this is a soothing and calming disc, and the live acoustics add an aural halo to the ensemble's sound.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom|