Taneyev: At the Reading of a Psalm

Sergei Taneyev
At the Reading of a Psalm
Cantata No. 2 Op. 36 (1914-1915)
With the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Choir and the Tchernushenko Boys Choir of the Glinka Choral College
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor
Purchase via RNO Pentatone Music iTunes


Classical CD of the Week: The Telegraph, London



Recordings of Taneyev's own music, apart from a few chamber works, are few and far between, so this marvellous recording of his final composition is not to be missed... The huge forces involved have been captured in outstandingly vivid, almost tangible sound... while at the same time the atmosphere of the live concerts and illusion of 'being there' has been perfectly achieved in the multi-channel mix.... This is undoubtedly one of the finest choral recordings to appear in recent years and another splendid achievement by PentaTone!


...At the Reading of a Psalm, Taneyev's second cantata and his last masterpiece, [is] an epic monument of a score that marries the dignity of Russian church music with the emotional immediacy of Italian opera. It's one of the finest things in all music, and it never had a recording that burned with such passion.

Fanfare Magazine

[Pletnev] keeps the textures admirably transparent in this complex and fascinating work. The RNO… copes ably with the cantata’s challenges…. While the engineering is excellent in stereo, in surround sound the orchestra and chorus acquire a dimension of massiveness due to the hall reverberance entirely appropriate to the performance of such a piece in a concert venue. It’s impressive in its own right, especially at the powerful conclusions of the first and third movements. With excellent liner notes and texts in English and transliterated Russian, I can highly recommend this release.


This marvelous Cantata – Taneyev's swan song – proves that he was the most important Russian contrapuntist, with an extremely organised control of the form and results of almost bizarre mystic beauty. Mikhail Pletnev conducts... a wonderful dark Slavic perfomance.

Classical CD Review

Taneyev's music is grand in scale, constantly rewarding and his mastery of composition is evident from several fugues particularly the triple fugue at the conclusion. This performance is magnificent with four sterling soloists, a large enthusiastic chorus, and orchestral playing of the highest order... Without question, this is one of the finest, most realistic choral/orchestral recordings to be heard... This is a handsome production with complete texts in Russian, English, German and French. Highly recommended!

BBC Music Magazine

Mikhail Pletnev clearly believes passionately in the work, and he conducts the orchestra he founded, the Russian National Orchestra, with loving attention to detail. The orchestra [is] a virtuoso band, and there are numerous beautifully shaped woodwind solos.

The Telegraph, London

Mikhail Pletnev...has been making a strong case for Taneyev, whose music is generally outstripped in popularity by that of his pupils, among them Skryabin and Rachmaninov. The drama of At the Reading of a Psalm packs quite a punch, Taneyev deploying the contrapuntal techniques that were his special forte with verve and richness against a sumptuous harmonic backcloth. The cantata was completed in 1915; its text takes Psalm 50 as a springboard for reflections on God's exhortation to brotherly love. As such, it is a sort of philosophical counterpart to Beethoven's Missa solemnis... It is a terrific piece, and this fine performance does it proud.


Taneyev's use of fugue as symbol of 'the superior reason dominating the universe' [compares] with Beethoven's approach to sacred words in the Missa Solemnis... Mikhail Pletnev does well to clarify this, and much else in the work, so successfully. [The music] rewards the close listening it demands.

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