Rachmaninov: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Composed in 1910, but only reconstructed from parts as late as the 1980s, after a long period of obscurity, the "Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom" is one of Sergey Rachmaninov's most profoundly moving choral works, as well as one of his most harmonically rich and sonically radiant compositions. This setting of the Liturgy, along with Rachmaninov's "Vespers" and other sacred pieces, enjoyed a significant revival in the 1990s during the general awakening of interest in religious music for meditative listening, and their popularity has continued through periodic releases of first-rate recordings. This 2010 SACD by the Latvian Radio Choir is an excellent example of a phenomenally polished ensemble delivering the Liturgy with sublime expression and subtle textures, all with an appropriate reverence for Orthodox Christian worship (even though this setting was never embraced by the church because of its advanced harmonies). Yet this is such a gorgeous-sounding performance in all its aspects, listeners really can't be blamed for appreciating or even luxuriating in the lushness of the choir's a cappella chanting, the steady but seemingly timeless tempos, and the embracing resonance of the spacious Dome Cathedral in Riga, where this recording was made in 2008. Ondine's DSD reproduction is spotless, and the wonderful sound reveals full sonic dimensions and a wide frequency range. Highly recommended.