Mikko Sidoroff

Mikko Sidoroff: Panihida

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Composer Mikko Sidoroff (born in 1985) was only 22 when this recording of his Finnish setting of the Orthodox all-night vigil for the dead was released. The composer freely admits his musical debt to Russian Romantic liturgical settings, and to his countryman Einojuhani Rautavaara's Vigilia, but it's also easy to detect the influence of Arvo Pärt's larger choral works in its mood, pacing, and use of dissonance. Sidoroff's setting is faithful to the spirit of the texts in its subdued tone and consistently slow tempos. Its tonal language, spiked with a chromaticism in the solo lines and occasional lushly romantic harmonies, can be heard as relentlessly lovely, but without enough variety to ward off monotony over its 45-minute length. As is often the case with music that works with pared down expressive elements (like some kinds of minimalism, for example), this music requires close and attentive listening to reveal the variety and interest at work below the surface sameness. Although it was written for concert performance (since as an extended a cappella piece it's well beyond the capabilities of all but the most extraordinary church choirs), it's easy to see how effective it could be in a liturgical setting, in a space conducive to meditation. The unity of its aesthetic universe and the subtlety of its architecture are especially impressive in a creator so young and make Sidoroff a composer to watch out for. The performance by the Chrysostomos Chamber Choir, an ensemble founded and conducted by the composer, is disciplined and focused. The group sings with exemplary intonation and tone quality and is clearly responsive to Sidoroff's expressive conducting. Soprano Anita Lintu and tenor Ossi Jauhiainen negotiate the solos with purity and sensitivity. The sound of Alba's SACD is clean, with good presence and resonance.

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