Orthodox Chants From Russia is a nice album of basic choral chants from the Opina Pustyn Male Choir, formed in St. Petersburg around 1996. The repertoire of the choir includes some bits of secular music, but here they present solely the spiritual end of things. The album starts with a nice call-and-response rendition of a psalm, then moves into the litany that opens Orthodox services. More pieces of psalms are presented, as are a number of stichera (poetry sung between psalms), ending on a Hail Mary. The performance is kept in a rather austere form throughout the proceedings, but the depth of the voices works well with it to add a level of power. There are some parallels to be heard here with related styles, such as Gregorian chant and Byzantine chant (and even Kosovar Islamic chant), but at the same time there are aspects specific to the Russian version of Orthodoxy. Give it a listen for the beauty of the polyphony.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg