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Thread: Bortnyansky's Sacred Concertos

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    Default Bortnyansky's Sacred Concertos

    I have begun listening to Dmitry Bortnyansky's (Bortniansky) Sacred Concertos. He wrote something like 35 concertos for four-part mixed choir and 10 for double choir. Apparently Tchaikovsky decidedly disliked them. The Gramophone Classical Music Guide recommends the Chandos Vol 3 release.

    Does anyone know more about these concertos? Do you have favorites? There seem to be other releases besides the Chandos ones, but they are ridiculously expensive.

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    Senior Member kangxi's Avatar
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    I have all of these! The Chandos CDs were expensive, it's true (I bought them as each was each was issued separately). But that was ages ago - are they not available as a boxed set at a cheaper price by now? (Actually no: you're right. I just checked Amazon.com & they are, as you say,still expensive. And why does Amazon's ridiculous search engine respond to me inputting "Bortnyansky" by listing, along with all the Bortnyansky discs, a recording of Pavarotti singing Donizetti?)
    Anyway, the music is delightful - a strange blend of classical style & Russian church music.

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    I have a small selection of Bortnyansky's Sacred Concertos. I bought Vol 2 of the set by the Russian State Orchestra, covering Nos 10-16. This is part of the entire set on the Chandos label. As well, I have No 27 which is included in a wider range of Bortnyansky's Orthodox chant by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Paul Hillier.

    Bortnyansky is a principal exponent of this kind of work. I wasn't tempted to buy the rest of the set, mainly because I was only wishing to get a good idea of what Orthodox Chant was all about. I like this kind of material a lot - very uplifting and inspirational, one can almost detect the wafting incense. It has a timeless air about it such that, unless one knew, it wouldn't be apparent that the composer is from the "late classical" era, born roughly about the same time as Mozart although he managed to live much longer.

    As soon as you've heard just a few of these concertos, the style tends to remain in your mind and it's easy to recognise it amongst other kinds of church choral work. For example, it's nothing like Gregorian chant, which of course is in Latin, and which has a totally different "air" about it compared with the equivalent material from the Russian Orthodox Church. I do like works with choral/religious flavours, and have catholic tastes (small "c"), although by choice I prefer Catholic (large "C").

    One of the useful side results of checking out works by Bortnyanky was the discovery of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, referred to above, which prompted me to delve further into their other recordings. They're a really splendid outfit and have recorded works, with a quasi-religious flavour, by several other composers like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Gorecki, Part. It's on the Harmonia Mundi label.
    Last edited by Partita; Jan-29-2014 at 05:21.

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    Since posting this thread, I've moved on, but now I think I will have another listen. The Naxos Music Library has all the concertos and lists them as having all been composed in 1799. I assume that can't be correct. Anyway, thanks for the comments.

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    Default Unlimited Free Music

    TrackPunch gets all of the songs from the largest free music source on the internet: YouTube and SoundCloud. You can find every song, cover and remix and keep it forever at no cost to you.

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    Senior Member Bas's Avatar
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    Wow. This forum is such a treasure. I never heard of him, but after a few youtube lookups I am definitely intrigued. The language sounds beautiful and I want to dig into this (add a more sane hour, tomorrow.)

    Thanks a great lot for the suggestion.
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