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CD Review

Liturgical Treasures From Bulgaria

Valley 15262
  • Dobri Hristov:
  • Gladsome Radiance 1
  • Blessed is the Man 1
  • Polyeleos 1
  • Holy God 3
  • Apostol Nikolaev-Stroumsky:
  • Meet it is in Truth to Bless You 5
  • Otche Nash (Our Father) 6
  • Neofit Rilsky: Resurrection (Voskresenya Den) 2
  • Nikolai Bakhmetiev: The Noble Joseph 4
  • Stepan Anikiyevich Degtyarev: Rejoice Isaiah, Holy Martyrs… 4
  • Vasilii Zinoviev: We Hymn Thee, We Bless Thee 1
  • Kiril Popov: Exaltation for the Nativity 3
  • Peter Dinev: In Thy Kingdom, Come Let us Worship 6
  • Konstantin Shvedov: We Have No Other Help 7
1 Sofia Orthodox Choir/Miroslav Popsavov
2 Sofia Boys' Choir/Adriana Blagoeva
3 Male Choir of Sveta Nedelya Cathedral/Kiril Popov
4 Mixed Choir/Miroslav Popsavov
5 Sofia Madrigal/Stoyan Kralev
6 Madrigal Sofia Chamber Choir/Stoyan Kralev
7 Vassil Arnaudov Sofia Chamber Choir/Theodora Pavlovitch
Valley Entertainment 2-VLT-15262 46:13
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The reader may have noticed that some of the hymn titles listed in the heading sound a bit peculiar. In fact, they appear to be very awkwardly, if not poorly, translated: for example, Meet it is in Truth to Bless You is probably more correctly translated as Just it is in Truth to Bless You and We Hymn Thee, We Bless Thee would be better served with the title, We Praise You, We Bless You. But I wouldn't necessarily blame the label here, Valley Entertainment, because these odd translations have appeared in previous performances and recordings. One other problem is the timings listed for the music. The timing stated on the inside album cover for The Noble Joseph, for example, is given as 6:01, but on my Blu-ray player it has a duration of 7:05. I found numerous other differences in timings on the disc, most of them just slight. Overall, you actually get somewhat more music than is stated in the album information, and I have listed what I believe is the correct duration in the heading above.

Having pointed out these two rather minor production flaws, I can say I have no cavil with the music or its performance on this disc. Those who like chant or other sacred a capella singing will almost certainly find this disc to their liking. While some of the selections differ from Medieval chant in their less austere spirit and greater sense of warmth, many have a desolate kind of character of their own or feature a contemplative, somewhat dark manner. Further, virtually nothing here is animated in pacing or garish in style or, heaven forbid, loud or discordant: this is music that will especially be appreciated by those who like their choral music to sound soothing and serene, even if it is dark in mood at times. Indeed, and of course it has a fervent religiosity underpinning its soothing tones.

The better selections here are some of the longer ones: Blessed is the Man, Polyeleos and The Noble Joseph are all profound in their way and quite beautiful, and beautifully sung. The latter is one of the brighter and more spirited chants on the disc, and it is also a clever sort of minimalist creation in its imaginative repetition of the thematic material throughout much of the work. There are soloists in some of the works and most are quite good. Often, they appear in the role of a celebrant, calling out or leading prayerful interjections.

While all the music is very well crafted on this disc, I believe the selections by Dobri Hristov are the more compelling ones. As suggested above, the performances by the various groups are uniformly excellent. As for other production features, the sound reproduction is very good, but no texts are provided. In the end, if this repertory appeals to you, this disc, despite its rather meager timing, will surely not disappoint. Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2016, Robert Cummings