Sacred Songs (ECM New Series B0017359-02) looks at Ukranian composer Valentin Silvestrov's very original choral work while celebrating his 75th birthday year.
It is music that retains something of the sonic world of Russian Orthodox liturgical chant but remakes it all for today with pedal tone suspensions underpinning elaborate, sequential melody lines that have a decidedly modern harmonic-mystical tang to them.
The music unfolds with an internal logical and yet explores sacred ambiances with a kind of passion that nods to tradition while making brilliant use of contemporary melodic-harmonic possibilities in a directly communicating way.
Like Arvo Part, Silvestrov references early music without hearkening back to it, creating in the process his own unmistakably original, engaging music.
The Kiev Chamber Choir under Mykola Hobdych sound angelic. The reverberant cathedral space that serves as the setting for the recording adds atmosphere and sets off the aurally striking music perfectly. A ravishing recording!