Review

Early Music America Reviews Good Friday in Jerusalem

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy SepulchreDonald Rosenberg reviews our Good Friday In Jerusalem recording in Early Music America Magazine:

“Here Cappella Romana travels back to the roots of Byzanitne chant to recreate a Good Friday service through the music of the 8th and 9th centuries. The recording shot to the top of Amazon and Billboard charts when released, and it takes only a few seconds to understand why listeners have been mesmerized. From the moment the ensemble’s cavernous basses intone drones that anchor extended, contemplative chants, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from your speakers or earbuds. … The disc, the ensemble’s 20th, was recorded in Stanford University’s Memorial Church, a space of subtle resonance that allows the music to float on a halo of sound without ever becoming hazy. The singers of Cappella Romana…sustain the long phrases with remarkable finesse and breath control, including those intrepid basses, who appear to possess endless reserves of air. Along with tonal beauty, the ensemble brings utmost clarity to texts that inspired music of ecstatic and penetrating splendor. The soloists, the Greek-born Stelios Kontakiotis and Portland native John Michael Boyer, are eloquent champions of chant.” —Donald Rosenberg, Early Music America

See the full review in the Fall 2015 issue of Early Music America

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Gramophone Magazine Names Steinberg: Passion Week An Editor’s Choice!

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekGramophone Magazine names our new Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week recording an August Editor’s Choice!

“This important and exciting release from the Portland, Oregon-based 26-strong chamber choir is a notable successor to their ‘Good Friday in Jerusalem’ disc (5/15). … This recording closely followed what is believed to have been the premiere complete performance by these forces. … The a cappella textures spread variously and luxuriantly into 12 parts, requiring, as might be expected, the sopranos to soar with jewel-like brilliance and the basses to delve to their reedy subterranean depths. Cappella Romana cope with all of this with an eloquent brilliance, singing with tremendous relish, as though this obscure masterpiece had been in their repertory for years. Their unanimity of attack and fastidious approach to dynamic contrasts are just two hallmarks of an outstanding achievement. Hats off, too, to Preston Smith and Steve Barnett for their superb engineering and production. …the finest advocacy from these fine musicians. This is definitely a disc to savour.” —Malcolm Riley, Gramophone Magazine

Read the full review on www.gramophone.co.uk!

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Planet Hugill Reviews Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekRobert Hugill has a new review for our “Remarkable re-discovery” of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week:

“Musically it is very much in the same genre as Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil (Vespers), the chant in Steinberg’s work has similar recognisable outlines. Steinberg’s harmony is more classical…and the chants stand out more in Steinberg. …Quite romantic in texture, it is approached in a similar vein by the choir which gives a beautiful shapeliness to phrases, and a nice clarity.… [There are] some ravishing moments such as the trio No. 8 Exaposteilarion: The Wise Thief and the fine tenor solo in No.9 Canon, Ode 9, Heirmos: Do not weep for me mother. I was struck by Alexander Lingas’ very steady tempos… The pairing with the Rimsky-Korsakov provides some very beautiful singing and a further illuminating glimpse into the history of Russian sacred music. … [Cappella Romana is] clearly a very capable and flexible choir and anyone interested in Orthodox and Byzantine chant should keep an eye open for them. Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week is a major work which deserves to be better known. … Alexander Lingas and Capella Romana are to be congratulated on their scholarship in recovering the work, and their fine recording.” —Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

See the full review on PlanetHugill.com

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Good Friday In Jerusalem in Early Music Review

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

“Alexander Lingas, in collaboration with Ioannis Arvanitis, is fortunate in being able to reify his archival researches into Medieval Byzantine chant by means of Cappella Romana’s fine musical skills and their recording team. … we can rejoice that these rites are preserved from a Holy Land now surrounded by architectural, human and cultural destruction.” —Diana Maynard, Early Music Review

See the full review at www.earlymusicreview.com

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New MusicWeb Review for Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekAfter John Quinn named Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week an April “Recording of the Month”, another MusicWeb International critic has been listening to our world premiere recording:

“It is hard to imagine the turmoil surrounding conflict and persecution between the Communist state and the Church in this period, and even more so on hearing this tender devotional music floating from your speakers. Steinberg’s melodic material is of course based on traditional chant, but his harmonisations are at times delectably juicy. He doesn’t go in much for dissonance, but a rich spread of voice parts and added notes create moments which might lead you to think of all kinds of associations, from Herbert Howells to Arvo Pärt or even Eric Whitacre. As for the performance, right from the opening solo for the Alleluia, which has a quality of overtone singing which instantly conjures a spell of ancient ritual, you know you are in for a special experience. The recording itself has a special atmosphere, but it is of course the impeccable sound and musicianship of Cappella Romana that carries us on Steinberg’s carpet of spiritual beauty from beginning to end. The power of this stunning performance is that it simultaneously brings to life a masterpiece in whose sounds you can bathe with eternal opulence, and also restores a liturgical and spiritual monument that deserves a permanent place and wide use in its intended context and beyond.…” —Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International

Read the full review on www.musicweb-international.com

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Choir & Organ Magazine Reviews Good Friday in Jerusalem

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy SepulchreChoir & Organ Magazine gives five stars to our Good Friday In Jerusalem recording in their May/June Issue:

“This ‘premiere in modern times’, revivified through extensive research, is true tingle-factor stuff: an austere, inexorable, mesmerising Crucifixion liturgy told in the 8th-and-9th-century Byzantine chant that once resounded within Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, leading the listener through Christ’s final earthly journey. A lavishly spacious recording in acoustics mystically evocative of the original blooms around this super-resonant blend of voices, including Grecophone singers and plangent note-bending solo singing from Stelios Kontakiotis—compellingly convincing and cathartic.” —Rebecca Tavener, Choir & Organ Magazine

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AllMusic Features Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekAllMusic critic James Manheim has a new review for our Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week recording:

“The whole story is told in the excellent notes here, but the music itself is the main attraction. The nearest comparison would be Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, but it is far from a knock-off. Steinberg makes less use of the characteristic Russian bass voices, but his settings, combining solo and choral sections in a variety of configurations, are equally varied and have a certain mystical streak that’s very appealing. The work is nicely balanced by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Chant Arrangements for Holy Week, another example of the intriguing flowering of Russian sacred music that occurred before and around the advent of Communism. Recommended, with something of a lost treasure of Russian choral music.” —James Manheim, AllMusic

Read the full review on AllMusic.com

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MusicWeb International Reviews Good Friday In Jerusalem

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy SepulchreMusicWeb International critic Garry Higginson recalls his own Holy Week in Jerusalem experience while listening to Cappella Romana’s new Good Friday in Jerusalem recording:

“Jerusalem was filled with people of all nations, as befits a city of pilgrimage. Droves of superior-looking tourists who had come to gaze curiously on the rites of the Eastern Church were queerly mixed with humble Eastern Christians. That was in 1984 when I was there for what turned out to be a richly memorable week.

I was told that if I wanted to witness the Greek ceremony of the feet washing I should rise at 5.00 am and join the crowds for the 8:00 am start that was eventually 9.00 am. It was here that I first heard what we could call Byzantine chant. The singing was steadily and rhythmically paced to match the slow procession of Copts and Egyptian Christians walking out of the church of the Holy Sepulchre where they had been chanting and praying for an hour before. It is quite unlike the free and liquid movement of Gregorian chant — utterly unforgettable. The church bell, which rang later, had a haunting rhythm and tone quality, which I can still recall.

Listening to this CD especially during this Holy Week (2015) has brought it all back and the helpful diagram of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in the booklet reminds me of the astounding church which dominates the area. …” —Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International

Read the full review on www.musicweb-international.com

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ClassicalNet: Passion Week is An Ethereal Experience

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekClassicalNet‘s Brian Wigman says Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week is an example of why he’s “been a fan of Cappella Romana for a few years now”:

“I’ve been a fan of Cappella Romana for a few years now, and they have thoroughly enriched our understanding of Orthodox choral music from all over the world. Director Alexander Lingas – who also provides the detailed, yet accessible notes for this release – marshals his forces to create an immaculate blend and an ethereal experience. … [Steinberg’s] writing is distinctive in its own way and wholly captivating … there is much to savor in the beautiful harmonies and soaring melodies. Cappella Romana does this sort of thing better than anyone, and there is literally nothing to criticize from a technical standpoint. … The texts and translations are always welcome, and the whole project is as well-crafted and professional as one could wish. This is a major addition to any choral library.” —Brian Wigman, ClassicalNet

Read the full review on www.classical.net

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