[MUSIC ~ ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ RUS]
Adelaide Town Hall – Auditorium, Sun 3 Mar.
Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery was founded in the late 14th Century. It is not clear how old the associated choir is but their main purpose has always been to sing the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Some of these liturgical pieces are up to 500 years old so we are talking about very old music which is devoid of any instruments, and seemingly invested with an ethereal, divine like essence that takes you to some distant, timeless place.
The first half of the program featured religious music and it took about 30 seconds to melt into the primal sound of the human voice in harmony. The second part of the program included several folk songs from Russian, Cossack and Ukrainian traditions, and were perhaps more accessible to the modern ear but there was something delightfully eerie about the low controlled tones of the religious chants that was totally compelling.
This choir’s ability to gather around the low and slow notes of their bassi profundi (deep baritones) and hold impossibly long low notes was remarkable. At other times delicate and pure high tones soared out over the chorus of voices below them. And when all 18 voices sang together on more rousing pieces they produced a sound as powerful and beautiful as anything you’ll ever hear. Simply a superb testament to the human voice and the sounds and feelings it can generate when it explores its entire dynamic range.
Several pieces featured soloists and these seemed to be the pieces most enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. I found the formal and ritualised applause routine after each solo piece a little tedious but that was a small price to pay for an exquisite musical experience.
Sretensky Monastery Choir continues at Adelaide Town Hall – Auditorium from 8pm until Mon 4 Mar.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.