Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Orthodox Baroque

I was bowled over at Christmastide by a broadcast concert of Russian choral music from the past 350 years (see this post). One discovery was of Vasily Titov (c.1650-c.1715), a leading figure in what's known as the 'Moscow Baroque' and whose music reminded me of the greatest German composer of the previous-generation-but-one, Heinrich Schütz. I added, "There's still something of a luminous aftertaste of the late Renaissance about it, with rich polyphonic writing, madrigalian touches and melodic phrases that, at times, remind me of Monteverdi."

Well, digging a little further, Titov didn't get this influence of the old Baroque masters at first hand (obviously, given his dates!) but via a Ukrainian composer - the 'ur-composer' of Russian music so to speak, Nikolay Diletsky.

Diletsky's dates, like much of the rest of his biographical detail, are clouded in uncertainty. Let's say that he lived from roughly 1630-1690 then! When you hear the influential Mr. Diletsky's music, however, there's no uncertainty about its influences or its influence on Titov. My impressions of Titov's music also apply to Diletsky's. 

Well, that's the case for one of the works I'm about to link to. The other is a little different in that the Western influences are allied with Russian chant. So, it wasn't just the 19th Century that put chant to use in classical musical after all. Eyes duly opened!

We don't seem to have much surviving music from Diletsky, but what we do have (and is available to be heard) is beautiful and far from being of merely historical importance - as you can hear:

Easter Kanon, for eight voices (see also)
Divine Liturgy, for four voices

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