Canti Augustini, Magnus Es Domine, Invocabo Deum (World Première)

“….For Alexander Levine’s two settings of prayers by St Augustine – Magnus est Domine and Invocabo Deum (the latter being a world première) – the group found a more communicative tone, and their involvement with the composer and his creations showed in their animation and in the expressive delivery of these charming works, that are half Catholic and half Orthodox in sensibility: composites of rhythmic chanting and slower passages sprinkled with twinkling note clusters – the hybrid offspring of Duruflé and Pärt, perhaps.”

Barry Creasy


Concert review on the Australian premiere of the Divine Liturgy. St’ George’s Cathedral Consort / Joseph Nolan

…The Consort gave the Australian premiere of Levine’s hauntingly beautiful Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. The Russian/English composer’s setting of the ancient liturgy drew on the operatic drama of Bach’s Passions and the soaring ecstasy of Renaissance polyphony. Add Levine’s Russian heritage and his contemporary harmonic language and the result was an enthralling composition that sat easily alongside the great liturgical settings by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Tavener.”

 

This review copyright The West Australian newspaper 2014


Choir & Organ

Tenebrae has already recorded another substantial work by Russian composer  Alexander Levine (b.1955), Prayers for Mankind. They  understand his soundworld and this makes for a polished and convincing rendering. Those listeners who, like me, have spent hours absorbing Orthodox  divine liturgy settings by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Tavener will find much  to savour here. The language is tonal, often gentle and sustained, but always  contrasted, deeply expressive of the sacred texts, and consistently rewarding,  interpreted through the vibrato-free yet appropriately sonorous timbre of  Tenebrae.

Matthew Power, July 2013

The BBC Music Magazine

Written after a powerful spiritual experience, Alexander Levine’s 2006 setting  of Russian Orthodox liturgy appears old and new at the same time.
Soaring,ecstatic, and gorgeously performed.

Geoff Brown, September 2013


Musicweb International

By John Quinn

”…I found that one very soon falls under the spell of Levine’s music. In my case this had happened well before the end of the first movement…”

“…Anyone interested in the music of the Orthodox Church should hear this beautiful and imaginative score which respects and is built on the tradition of Orthodox music yet at the same time takes that tradition in a new and exciting direction.”

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THE DIVINE LITURGY OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Reviewed by Ivan Moody for the GRAMAPHONE Magazine (June 2013)

Levine’s Divine Liturgy from close collaborators Tenebrae

“…It is shot through by the same passionate urgency and by the same fluency in writing for choral ensemble, at once contemporary and connected with the great Russian choral tradition of the past.”

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Editorial Reviews, All Music Guide – Blair Sanderson

“…Alexander Levine’s inspired setting of the “Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” is recognizably modern, though it is still solidly rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition and carries in its sublime moods and sonorities the spirituality and mysticism of the Eastern Church.”

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International Record Review

“…there is rather more variety and contrast than in either the Tchaikovsky or the Rachmaninov models. As early as the second movement, for example, the music rises to a passionate climax at the words ‘Glory be to the Father’, and the setting of the ‘Creed’ – the passage where many a composer’s inspiration has tended to cool – provokes, from Levine, perhaps the most varied writing of the whole work.” May 2013

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Review by Steven Whitehead, Cross Rhythms

“When I returned to London”, says Alexander Levine, “I had a strong feeling that I should start composing the music for the Liturgy straight away. . . I thought about this journey as the spiritual experience of a person who one day comes to the church to participate in a liturgical service, where prayers and music would cast upon him the joy of unification in spirit with the divinity of God through Jesus Christ.” The resulting composition certainly achieves this numinosity…”

Read the full text of review

 

 


CD review – Alexander Levine – Divine Liturgy

Alexander Levine’s Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was written at the end 2005 – early 2006, in memory of his friend Father Alexander Men, the Russian Orthodox priest who became an influential spiritual leader and architect of religious renewal in Russia at the end of the Soviet period. The work was premiered in Russia in 2009, by the Mariinsky Opera Choir at the Easter Festival in Moscow. The work received its UK premiere earlier this month at the launch of this CD, with Tenebrae directed by Nigel Short (see our review of the concert on this blog).
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