A Russian Christmas

COMPOSERS: 17th century Orthodox Church Music
LABELS: Carlton
PERFORMER: Pokrov Ensemble/Andrei Malyutin
CATALOGUE NO: 30366 00822

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Finally, there may be little new Gregorian chant around, but Carlton has come up with something even duller. Though you’d be hard-put to work it out from the utterly inadequate notes, A Russian Christmas is in fact a highly speculative reconstruction of some of the lost polyphonic music of the late 17th-century Orthodox church, placed in the context of the even duller unison chant that preceded it.

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Still, the disc is almost worth the price for the concluding ninety seconds of bell-ringing alone – an extraordinary gamelan-style riff of dotty rhythms and counter chimes, like Quasimodo run amok in St Basil’s.