Vengeance Vocal Essentials Vol 2
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In these three churches the singing is of extraordinary beauty. I know no country except Russia where church music attains such heights of mystery and majesty by vocal polyphony alone. The choir, about a hundred in number, is placed near the ikonostasis. At the back are the basses, then the baritones. In front are two rows of boys, contraltos and sopranos, whose childish and composed faces always bring to mind Luca della Robbia's charming work. The perfect execution reveals not only a remarkable technical training but still more a natural musical gift of a high order. However cunningly interwoven the parts, however delicate the modulations and complex the harmonies, the choristers keep faultless time and tune without the help of any sort of accompaniment. I could stay for hours listening to these anthems, responses, chants, psalms, and free passages. Many of the pieces I have heard to-day go back to the primitive origins of the eastern liturgy, but several others - and not the least fine of them - are quite modern, being the work of Bortniansky (who died in 1825 and is known as the "Russian Palestrina"), Glinka, Sokolov, Bakhmetiev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tschaikovsky, Archangelsky, and Gretchaninov. What is so particularly splendid in these works is the deep religious feeling; their appeal is to the mysterious recesses of the soul, and they touch the most secret places of the heart. They express and develop with rare feeling all the lyrical elements enshrined in Christian doctrine. They are successively transports of prayer, sighs of despair, appeals for mercy, cries of distress, screams of fear, the anguished voice of repentance, the fervour of regret, the grief of self-abasement, flickers of hope, outpourings of love, transport of holy ecstasy, the splendours of glory and bliss. At times the tragic effects attained a most extraordinary and overwhelming intensity by the sudden intervention of two or three basses whose exceptional registers descended nearly an octave below the normal. At the other end the boys have crystal clear voices which rise so high and with such sweetness and purity that they seem to become sheer spirit, superhuman and seraphic. The heavenly songs which Fra Angelico heard within when he painted his angelic choirs could not have been more ethereal.
"Russia entered this war against the will of God. Evil be to those who still refuse to believe it! To hear the voice of God all that is necessary is to listen humbly. But when men are strong they are puffed up with pride: they think themselves clever and despise the simple until one day the judgment of God falls upon them like a thunderclap. Christ is angry at all the groans that mount to him from the soil of Russia. But what do they care, the generals, about having moujiks killed; it doesn't prevent them eating or drinking or getting rich. . . . Alas! the blood of the victims will not bespatter them alone: it will bespatter the Tsar himself for he is the father of the moujiks... . I tell you, the vengeance of God will be terrible!"
While they were all exhausting themselves in conjectures the secret was supernaturally betrayed to a monk. As he was on the point of kneeling to pray in a dark chapel Saint Nicholas appeared to him and revealed the meaning to be attached to the cries and contortions of the yourodivi: the monk wrote down the exact interpretation under the dictation of Saint Nicholas himself. The community was then amazed at all the knowledge and prophetic instinct revealed in the inarticulate sounds made by the idiot: he knew everything - the past, the present, the future. In 1901 he was taken to Petersburg where the Emperor and Empress highly esteemed his power of foretelling the future although they were then completely under the thumb of the magician Philippe. In the evil days of the Japanese War it seemed as if Mitia Koliaba was marked out for a great part, but some stupid friends thrust him into the epic quarrel between Rasputin and Bishop Hermogenes. He was obliged to disappear for a time to escape the vengeance of his terrible adversary. At the present time he lives among a small and secret, but fervent, sect and is biding his time. 2b1af7f3a8