Cantata: Ioann Damaskin (John of Damascus), Op. 1
|Sergey Vassilievich Rachmaninov|
The Bells, Op. 35
Dmytro Popov (Tenor), Anna Samuil (Soprano), Vladislav Sulimsky (Bass-Baritone)
Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno
Between counterpoint and Russian hymn: Escape from the world and faith in a moving cantata Taneev had trained his compositional technique on the polyphony of Bach and Handel and pursued the idea of combining counterpoint and Russian folk music. The cantata Ioann Damaskin (“Johannes Damascenus”), written in 1883-84, refers to a longer poem by Aleksej K. Tolstoj (1817-1875). It deals with the flight from the world by John of Damascus (ca. 650-before 754) from worldly hustle and bustle to spiritual retreat. From this long poem Taneev chooses only 16 lines, which could serve as a model for a spiritual cantata, without reference to the background of his life. It is only about the life path of man in darkness and fear and the redemption at the Last Judgement. The contrapuntal nature of this work, trained in baroque music, occupies a certain special position in the Russian late romantic period. The Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne plays under the direction of Maestro Dmitrij Kitajenko.
To whom the hour strikes: Images of life, love and death in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells Inspired by the American poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), the symphonic poem “The Bells” was written in 1913, in which different characteristics of the bell sounds are processed in four parts: Sleigh bells of children in the first part, wedding bells of a young couple in the second, storm bells to an accident in the third and death bells in the fourth part. In his work Rachmaninoff makes use of the text version by Konstantin Balmont (1867-1943), who freely adapted the text by Edgar Allan Poe. Rachmaninoff skilfully avoided using glockenspiels and similar percussion instruments to imitate the sounds of bells; bell-like motifs are produced by the choir or vocal soloists and the normal orchestra instruments.