Arctic Light - Finnish Orthodox Music / Moody, Cappella Romana

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Probably because I had not thought about it, it had never occurred to me that there would be a thriving Orthodox Church in Finland, little...
Probably because I had not thought about it, it had never occurred to me that there would be a thriving Orthodox Church in Finland, little less a school of Orthodox music. Of course, as British conductor, composer, scholar, and Orthodox priest Ivan Moody points out in his edifying notes to this release, the Orthodox connection is the Russian connection. The Finnish Orthodox Church, one of the two Finnish state-recognized churches along with the more expected Evangelical Lutheran Church, dates back to the 12th century and Novgorodian missionaries and the later establishment of monasteries. With independence for Finland came separation from the Russian Church and an alignment with the Patriarchate of Constantinople as an autonomous archdiocese in 1923. Finnish Orthodox music is derived principally from its Russian roots and is molded by the distinctive Finnish culture and language.

The music on this release—all of it a cappella and all polyphonic—includes what is, to these rather novice ears, some of the most adventurous music built on the Orthodox traditions. One has only to hear the decidedly lush, late-Romantic harmonies applied by Pekka Attinen (1885–1956) in his Kerubiveisu (Cherubic Hymn) No. 3 to realize that the Finnish Orthodox Church is more open than some to musical innovation. Attinen’s student Peter Mirolybov (1918–2004) was inspired by his teacher’s progressive approach to liturgical music, as is evident in the crystalline clarity, born of modern harmonization, of his four works for the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The innovative voice leading used by Boris Jakubov (1894–1923) in his lovely Ehtooveisu (Evening Hymn) suggests that he would have explored more new paths if he had lived longer. Leonid Bashmakov (b. 1927), better known for his secular writing, creates his own melodies but retains the sound of the traditional chants in the Ikos and Exaposteilarion No. 2 for Easter. (American Tikey Zes has done the same in his latest liturgy, but it is unusual.) Timo Ruottinen’s (b. 1947) setting of the Alkupsalmi (Psalm 103) is notable for his use of a traditional chant melody with decidedly unexpected harmonies without losing the identity of the former or the surprise of the latter.

Not all of the works performed here are exceptionally progressive. Attinen’s exquisite Saata, oi Kristus (Kontakion: With the Saints give rest, O Christ) is less groundbreaking than his Kerubiveisu in style, but no less effective for that. Ruottinen’s Trisagion emphasizes the traditional melody, with echoes of some of the more traditional harmonizations. Mikko Sidoroff is known for his decidedly non-traditional approach to setting Orthodox chant, but his Kerubiveisu No. 4, while it occasionally pushes the envelope of tradition, makes most of its luminous effect through fairly conservative means.

The longest work on the disc, Te Apostolit…, and the only one by a non-Finnish composer, is a tribute to Finnish Orthodox music by Ivan Moody. The composer uses the traditional Byzantine melody to set the text on the death of Mary the mother of Jesus (The Exapostilarion for the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God), but the setting is unconventional and definitely not liturgical. It is hauntingly presented, as Moody explains, in sections representing, among other things, a lullaby and a funeral march.

Ivan Moody conducted this program in 2008 with Cappella Romana, and it was that concert that led to this recording. The performances are polished and technically secure. The sound of the choir is brighter and whiter than in some other recordings, which may reflect a stylistic quality of Finnish Orthodox singing. It is not at all unpleasant, just different. One small complaint: The choir produces oddly clipped alleluias in Attinen’s Kerubiveisu No. 3. It is the one executional oddity in an otherwise exemplary production. Recommended to anyone with an interest in rarely explored liturgical music in a relatively contemporary idiom.

FANFARE: Ronald E. Grames


Product Description:


  • Release Date: July 21, 2017


  • UPC: 888295018227


  • Catalog Number: CR412-CD


  • Label: Cappella Romana


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: ""


  • Composer: Boris Jakubov, Ivan Moody, Leonid Bashmakov, Mikko Sidoroff, Pekka Attinen, Peter Mirolybov, Timo Ruottinen


  • Conductor: Ivan Moody


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Cappella Romana


  • Performer: Cappella Romana, Moody



Works:


  1. Kerubiveisu no 3

    Composer: Pekka Attinen

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  2. Saata, oi Kristus

    Composer: Pekka Attinen

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  3. Ehtooveisu

    Composer: Boris Jakubov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  4. Paasiaissunnuntain Iikossi

    Composer: Leonid Bashmakov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  5. Paasiaisen Eksapostilaari no 2

    Composer: Leonid Bashmakov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  6. Alkupsalmi

    Composer: Timo Ruottinen

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  7. Trisagion

    Composer: Timo Ruottinen

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  8. Te Apostolit

    Composer: Ivan Moody

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  9. Kerubiveisu no 4

    Composer: Mikko Sidoroff

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  10. Eksapostilario

    Composer: Peter Mirolybov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  11. Kontakki

    Composer: Peter Mirolybov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  12. Ylistysveisu

    Composer: Peter Mirolybov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody


  13. Kiitosstikiira

    Composer: Peter Mirolybov

    Ensemble: Cappella Romana

    Conductor: Ivan Moody