Album review: The Hilliard Ensemble, Prayers and Praise: Vocal Music by Alexander Raskatov (Challenge Classics)


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The Independent Culture

Like other former Soviet composers freed from compulsory atheism, Alexander Raskatov employs a great many liturgical and religious texts in his music.

But the remarkable thing is the discernible undercurrent of anger in some of his pieces. But within that, as exposed here by the Hilliard Ensemble, is an elegant apprehension of devotional calm, albeit subtly soured in parts of “Obikhod” by the occasional odd, slurring cadences and discordances of the vocals set against the strings.

Throughout “Obikhod” and the earlier suite “Praise” runs a deep connection to the Russian Orthodox Church: the former is based on its book of common chants, while the church is paid tribute in the latter by the curious addition of “optional bells”.

Download: Obikhod; Praise