Orthodox Christmas and Other Russian Exports

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St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, in Snow

For many people, Christmas begins on December 25 and ends 12 days later with the festival of the Three Kings. But on the Russian Orthodox calendar, Christmas is just about to begin on January 7. On this episode of the Choral Mix, Kent Tritle presents an hour of music for Orthodox Christmas and other Russian exports.

We hear Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Bortniansky’s angelic hymn, Kheruvimskie pesni, sacred works by Pavel Chesnokov and more. The cliche about Russia at this time of year is probably true: the Russian winter is harsh. The music that grew from that harsh environment can convey a real sense of desolation and unearthly calm, but there’s also a warmth and a joy to it that lights up the holiday.



Rachmininov, Sergei: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op. 31

Slava Ottsu (Glory be to the Father)

Tebye Poyem (We Hymn Thee)

Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy

Nimbus 5497/98



Chesnokov, Pavel: Sacred Choral Works, Op 43:

No. 1 Presvyataya bogoroditse (Blessed Virgin Mary)

No. 3 Miloserdiya dveri otvertzi nam (Mercy opened the door)

No. 4 Ne umolchim nikogda, Bogorodiste (Keep not silence, Virgin Mary)

St. Petersburg Chamber Choir

Nikolai Korniev, Conductor

Philips 289 454 616-2



Arvo Part: Rejoice, O Virgin

Kastalsky, Alexander: Shepherds of Bethlehem

Traditional Ukrainian carol (Arranger: Stetsenko, Kyrylo): The Angels Exclaimed

Traditional Ukrainian carol (Arranger: Stetsenko, Kyrylo): A New Joy


Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Paul Hillier, Conductor

Harmonia Mundi 907410



Gretchaninoff, Alexander: Glory/Only Begotten Son

Chesnokov, Pavel: Cherubic Hymn

Sviridov, Georgy: A Wondrous Birth

Sviridov, Georgy: Christmas Troparion


Craig Hella Johnson, Conductor

Harmonia Mundi C122



Bortniansky, Dmitry: Kheruvimskie pesni (Cherubic Hymns) No. 7 of 7.

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Paul Hillier, Conductor

Harmonia Mundi HMU 907318



Gretchaninov, Alexander:

We praise the mother of God

Moscow State Academic Choir, Moscow State Choir, Musica Sacra

Andrej Koshewnikow, Conductor

K&K Verlagsanstalt KuK 23



Rachmoninov, Sergei:

Bogoroditse Dyevo (Rejoice O Ye Virgins)

Velichit dusha moya Ghospoda (Magnificat)

Choir of St Ignatius Loyola

Kent Tritle, Conductor

AMDG Recordings