Matins of Good Friday by the choir of the Trinity-St.Sergiy Laura (Moscow Metochion).(publ.2000)
My collection does not intend to be exhaustive: I try to include only those recordings that I really like, for whatever reason. In this case, it means that many anthologies and performances by 'Romantic' mixed choirs have been left out.
My main interest is in Byzantine and Orthodox Monastic Choral chant performed by male monastery choirs or singers.
Anyone interested in these matters is kindly invited to contact me for further information. I am always looking for new CD's not yet in my collection. If you possess any special recording (especially private recordings or rare publications in this field from Russia, Greece, or Egypt), I would be eager to hear more about it from you! Perhaps we can exchange some rare material.
Anyone interested in my collection, may also wish to take a look at the site of another lover of orthodox choral music, Theo Hop. His collection of CD's (fully listed on the site) is partly different from mine, but obviously we have many CD's in common.
I was in Greece for a short holiday and found some interesting new records of two well-known choirs: the excellent choir by Mr. Michalis Makris has published some older recordings on CD, previously only on cassette. In addition, three new CD's have been added, two of them truly magnificent (nrs. 17 and 18 from their series). I also found a impressive live-recording from Holy Week in the Monastery of Raphael, Nikolaus and Irini in Goumenissa. Rare material, that probably hardly ever leaves the territory of Greece, let alone that a record shop in London, Paris of New York would have it for sale...
Still not many new disks available, but occasionally I receive some great material from abroad. Today the mailman delivered parcels from Moscow and Paris, both containing splendid disks. Please check my list of new items.
Things have been a bit
quiet lately, with record companies hardly publishing anything in terms of
Russian or Greek choral music. Occasionally, however, there is a disk of some
interest. And through the Internet I still manage to obtain new records every
The New Year has started well, with lots of new CD's I obtained from my fellow orthodox music lover Theo Hop. New Coptic and Arabic/Byzantine music from Canada is coming up.
(new Coptic CD's)
This month has been very good again. Among the beautiful albums I could acquire is a stunningly beautiful set of 7 (seven!) CD's with Coptic chant, published by a relatively new choir from Canada, called the Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church Choir. This choir, consisting of mostly young men, has done a great job in recording the entire Coptic midnight office as it is chanted on Sundays. Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of these archaic Coptic chants. If you wish to learn more about it, or hear some samples, just visit the HCOC choir's website. Under 'hymns encyclopedia' you may find many chants free for downloading. It is also possible to buy the published 7 CD set for only 40 EURO's.
I also came into e-mail contact with a CD shop in Moscow. This resulted in a first package of four new CD's which I did not yet know, one of them a new recording by Hierodeacon German from Valaam.
From friends in Russia and Paris
I received some new recordings from Russia, as well as some highly interesting
monastic recordings from Rumania. All these CDs are nearly impossible to obtain
through normal channels in the west.
June 2003: Greece
In the last week of May, I was in Greece, where I spent my holiday. This was an excellent opportunity to check out the Athenian record stores for new and rare recordings of Orthodox Choirs! In fact, it proved not so easy to find the right places where to find this material. Unlike one might assume, the average Greek is not interested in those records, and so he or she does not know where to buy them.
Here is the secret: try and find specialized Orthodox Bookshops (often called 'Agion Oros' or the like). They sometimes (but not always) have a selection of CDs and tapes, which may either be put away in a sordid box behind a door or starecase, or theatrically exposed to the views of innocent visitors to impress them with the splendours of Greek orthodoxy. Mostly you will find the sordid box behind the door or starecase... The inventory includes both wonderful and awfully bad material, so do not buy anything at random. The best thing is to know the names of choirs or choirmasters that may be trusted, and just buy whatever is in store. Listening to CDs is usually not possible in Greece.
The shops in question may often be found close to a major church or cathedral in a larger town. But always be in for a surprise: the best shop in Athens, to my taste, is near Omonia square, with no church anywhere nearby, in what seems like a very degraded neighbourhood of dubious morals... (Let us say that the Light of Orthodoxy can shine everywhere...!) If you wish to get a few hints as to where to find good shops in Athens for Orthodox CD's, please feel free to c. I also know some good shops elsewhere. I found some fine material in the provincial town of Tripoli (Peloponnese), where tourists rarely come.
The basic rule is: just try every Orthodox Bookstore, no matter how ugly, sordid, or obscure it seems. You may find some heavenly Greek choral music there, which cannot be found in normal shops or on the internet! (Opening hours: usually only from 8.30 AM to about 1 or 2 PM). It requires a real effort, but if you find something beautiful, your joy will be all the greater..
During my holiday in Greece, thanks to active searching, I was able to buy some 20 new CDs, including some very interesting new records by the Monks of Vatopedi (Mt.Athos), one of the leading monastic Greek choirs in the world. It is very fortunate to see that the Monks now continue their series 'Vatopedi Musical Bible', after almost 5 years... I also found two supplicatory canons by them, that are not included in either of the two series of Vatopedi.
Another exclusive record is a live CD of a festive afternoon celebrating the choir of Mr Michael Makris (on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in 2002). The CD contains some superbly performed chants, as well as ceremonial speeches and introductions by VIP's and Bishops. This may seem a little silly to many non-Greeks, but the record is truly fine and will rejoice the heart of anyone who loves Greek Byzantine chant.
For all latest acquisitions see here.
Lots of new and fascinating discs have been coming in lately. Some of them were sent to me from Moscow by my loyal friend Eugene, without whom my collection would miss a great number of splendid Russian CD's. His latest package contained a truly superb liturgy in 'Znamenny raspev' (ancient Russian monody) by the Moscow metochion of St.Sergius Laura, a chorus that has published a number of great recordings. One cannot help wondering why such magnificent recordings are not for sale in the west: hardly anyone even knows of their existence !
In March 2003, during a visit to Paris, I visited one of my favourite shops in this town, a Russian shop on walking distance from the Notre Dame. Here I could buy some excellent new Russian recordings, and an Armenian recording from 1995 which I did not yet know.
Here are a few links to some of my favourite byzantine and orthodox choirs.
Church Slavonic (Russian, Ukranian a.o.)
For anyone interested in Gregorian (western) chant, I warmly recommend the excellent and informative site of Willy Schuyesmans.
here: 13-09-2012 15:18