Alfred Schnittke – Penitential Psalms; Drei Geistliche Gesänge

Alfred Schnittke Penitential Psalms
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Artist: Hans-Christoph Rademann, RIAS Kammerchor, Alfred Schnittke
Genre: Classical
Label: Harmonia Mundi

Alfred Schnittke's Penitential Psalms were written in 1988 for the 1,000th anniversary of the Christianisation of Russia.

But the major reference point in these settings of anonymous 16th-century Lenten texts is the choral glory of the Orthodox Church, which in Schnittke’s vision moves freely between the lugubrious and the ecstatic, and weaves through clouds of dissonance and consonance – clear, triadic harmony is not excluded – with characteristic freedom.

The extreme vocal demands are well met by Hans-Christoph Rademann and his Berlin singers, whose performance follows the composer's autograph rather than the published score.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor