Vladimir Martynov

Hymni

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The chamber group Ensemble Opus Posthumous performs works by Russian composer Vladimir Martynov on this CD, presenting what works as a suite in seven sections. The material consists of the composer's arrangements of hymns, many of them originating in the Middle Ages. This absorbing project originated with several live recordings of performances in 1996 and 1997, and has been released on one of the many new private recording labels that have sprung up in Russia since the dissolution of the old state record company Melodica, basically the recording branch of the Communist party -- and with good taste, to boot. The Long Arms label may have much less lofty political connections, but is an enterprise with good taste as well, judging from its catalog. The recording of the Hymni material emphasizes the sometimes spine-tingling sound of the accompanying strings, basically a medium-sized chamber group. A good deal of room ambience is part of the overall sound, giving the music a fitting sense of time and place. The sound is at times vast, almost promising to perform minor carpentry and expand the size of the room it is in. Countertenor David James Holster is also particularly effective, the tones of his voice seeming to be coming directly from the strokes of the violin bows.

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