M Berezovsky

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: M Berezovsky
LABELS: Claudio
WORKS: Sacred music
PERFORMER: Vidrodzhennya Chamber Choir/Mstyslav Yurchenko
Maksym Berezovsky, who lived his short life in the middle of the 18th century, was a crucially important Ukrainian composer who brought to the Russian court in St Petersburg a choral style founded in the contemporaneous Italian manner – a kind of halfway house between Baroque and Classical – influenced by both the Italian composers working around him at court and by his own studies in Bologna under Martini. Indeed, he wrote the first opera by a Ukrainian, but on his return to St Petersburg found himself unable to gain employment. Little of his work survives. The pieces on this disc – a seven-movement Liturgy and ten Eucharistic Verses that each form self-contained cycles, together with one of the three extant sacred choral concertos — represent the lion’s share of what now exists of his choral music, but there is enough to suggest a composer of imagination and huge expressive power. The Vidrodzhennya Chamber Choir sings with a wonderfully rich sound, and one can easily forgive its occasional lack of absolute precision of attack in the light of its obvious relish of Berezovsky’s rich textures, not exactly a million miles away from Rachmaninoff’s sacred music. A resonant acoustic adds to the appropriateness of the ambience. Stephen Pettitt