The Testament of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
The Greater Choir of the Academy
of Choral Art/Viktor Popov
BOHEME CDBMR 911109
Boheme's earlier disc (of orchestral
music) prepared the ground. That disc spoke of a confident-voiced composer
- bleak but never somnolent with a taste for blocks of vivid orchestral sound.
The Gogol Testament takes us into another dimension of Dmitriev's achievement.
This hour long work is for reader, soloists and mixed unaccompanied choir.
The texts, given in full, in the Cyrillic and English booklet, alternate
the words of Gogol with various canonical texts. Each section (there are
11) begins with the reader and then follows the mixed chorus. This music
is not at all 'difficult'. If you can manage John Tavener or the Rachmaninov
Vespers there will be no obstacles to enjoying this music and the rolling,
dark, tenor of Nikolai Burayev's voice. The very sound of spoken Russian
raises the hairs on the back of the neck. Burlayev (familiar from his role
in Tarkovsky's Andrey Rublev and as director of the 1986 film Lermontov)
is dedicated, sincere, serious - a voice reflective of suffering humanity.
That great voice is heard amid the consoling cradle of choral writing not
that dissimilar to the ecstatic rafts of sound in Janacek's Glagolytic Mass.
The great calls of 'veruju' from the Glagolytic have their spiritual counterpart
in Dmitriev's vocal armoury.
Spectacular and powerful recording complemented by a high order of artistry
and intelligence from the performers - all in a cathedral acoustic. The artists
are the same ones who premiered the work in 1999.
A splendid addition to the shelves of admirers of Russian vocal art alongside
the Rachmaninov Vespers and St John Chrysostum, the Tchaikovsky St John and
any number of CDs of Russian Orthodox chant.