Music from the Kremlin’s Uspensky Cathedral?
It was a moving and uplifting experience at the Christ Church Cathedral May concert, where Russian Orthodox music was performed for the first time.
During Soviet takeover and effort to destroy Russian Faith, not many
know that Michael Ippolitov-Ivanov, Alexander Kastalsky, Pavel Chesnokov, Alexander Grechaninov, > Dimitry Bortniansky, Stephen Smolensky and Vasuly Titov were outstanding composers during whose time (second half or the 18th Century and up to the time of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917) Russian sacred music have reached its peak and artistic bloom.
Compositions of these brilliant people were performed in the ancient Uspensky (Assumption) Cathedral, which stands in Kremlin as a great monument and historical sight. Built in 1475-79 it is the place where Russian patriarchs and metropolitans were buried, and tsars crowned and enthroned. The Cathedral is the third to occupy the space, with the first one built in 1326 by the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan Kalita. Back then Russian cities and principalities were not yet united, and each one had to defend itself alone from the constant attacks of Tartar hordes.
Music created under stylistic direction of Smolensky, Kastalsky and Chesnokov was a combination of wonderful blending of melodious sounds, and harmony of beautiful voices – all was entwined with the sublime beauty of words which inspire humility and piety, and draw listeners to yearn upwards toward the Creator. The realm of Russian saints, other-wordiness, and timelessness only intensify the existing psychological element - element capable of moving and touching hearts, enkindling spirits, and uplifting listeners.
It is not surprising that many great Russian composers of secular music such as: Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Moussogorsky, Rachmaninov, and Stravinsky were inspired by such music and even wrote religious pieces themselves.
It would be wrong not to express, or share joy of many, that ‘Voces Intimae’ professional singers have shed a glimpse of light on the “Old Russia” and its wonderful musical heritage, which reflect Russian Orthodoxy with its preservation of unchanged faith, and apostolic succession – faith, which Bolsheviks were not able to uproot.
The slightly shorter version was published in June 30, 2001 issue of the newspaper Time Colonist in Victoria, BC, Canada.
Galina Alpatoff, Victoria, BC, Canada
Music from the Kremlin ed11