Valentin Silvestrov: Sacred Works

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COMPOSERS: Silvestrov
WORKS: Liturgical Chants; Two Spiritual Songs; Two Spiritual Chants; Two Psalms of David; Diptych; Alleluia
PERFORMER: Kiev Chamber Choir/Mykola Hobdych


Silvestrov’s development parallels a number of other composers of his generation and background. He first challenged Soviet orthodoxy by embracing Western Modernism, then found a form of cultural rebellion with deeper roots in ancient melodies and Christian Orthodoxy – most evident in the Liturgical Chants, a work which initiated a new phase in Silvestrov’s development. 

He has said he found it difficult to write choral music, but was inspired by the Kiev Chamber Choir performing under Mykola Hobdych, who do his music proud here. He wrote Liturgical Chants for them in 2005, followed in 2006 by other works included on this disc, the exception being Diptych from 1995.

If Silvestrov was uncomfortable with choral music it didn’t show in this earlier piece, and the essential elements of the later works (the serene, airy melodic forms, the potent evocation of tradition and the bell-like harmonies) are already in place.


His writing has a more conventionally ‘classical’ feel than that of, say, Pärt or Kancheli, and may appeal to fans of Rutter as much as to ‘holy minimalist’ followers. Barry Witherden