St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Grechaninov. Passion Week

The Mariinsky Chorus
Conductor: Andrei Petrenko

Alexander Grechaninov
Passion Week for mixed chorus a cappella

About the Concert

No one, apart from Russian composers of the 20th century, could write spiritual music this scarifying. Grechaninov’s Passion Week, written in 1911, is the most poignant example of such music. The cycle is based on the traditional chants of the Orthodox Holy Week, the most lyrical ones in the canonic repertory. It was written for concert performance, so nothing was holding Grechaninov back from writing the music he wanted to write. His creative energy was flowing freely. It can be observed in the richness of colours and the daring musical devices used, some of them not even directly stemming from the chants themselves. For example, The Wise Thief displays some unexpected oriental motives, while in The Noble Joseph a traditional melody is contrasted with rhythmic bass tones of the bells, just like in Alyabyev’s Evening Bell. Grechaninov’s personality shines through the higher degree of emotionality than is prescribed by tradition. He starts ascetic enough, but cannot hold back from ecstatic culminations. The cycle was performed twice in Grechaninov’s lifetime: at the Moscow premiere on 16 November 1912, sung by the Synodal Choir, and the following year in St Petersburg, conducted by the author himself.
Yekaterina Yusupova

Age category 6+

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