Hola a todos. Below is a performance of “We Praise Thee” from The Russian Liturgy by the Russian composer, Pavel Grigorievich Chesnokov (in Russian: Павел Григорьевич Чесноков). This piece is performed superbly by the St Petersburg Chamber Choir of Russia and conducted by Nikolai Korniev.
Chesnekov lived during the years 1877-1944, approximately the same time as Sergei Rachmaninov, 1873-1943. And because of the style and harmonies of this piece, if one didn’t know otherwise, one might think it was written by Rachmaninov.
I played this for mi amigo/my friend and his first comment was about those Russian basses you will hear. They are known as Oktavist basses which are basso profondo (from italiano) basses with an exceptionally low (on the scale) range. They are usually the older men of the Chorus and this is especially typical of Russian Orthodox choral music. When I was a chorister in Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington we performed Sergei Rachmaninov’s choral symphony Колокола, Kolokola/The Bells, Op. 35, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with (I think it was) the resident National Symphony Orchestra — as opposed to a guest international orchestra — with either Norman conducting or Mstislav Rostropovich (I forget which, considering it was awhile ago). I think it was Norman; my memory sees him conducting that. But anyway, Norman worked on having our bass section sound authentically Russian for that performance, and it did, very much like what you’ll hear in the performance below. In Chesnekov’s choral music, he focused on the bass section in his writing generally dividing the bass section into six groups with baritones being the higher-ranged voices and the deep and powerful Oktavists basses at the bottom.
This music feels very appropriate for the dark times we’re living in as we proceed deeper into Dark Ages II. Chau.—el barrio rosa