Led by Paul Hillier, Chamber Choir Ireland returns to the Festival for a performance of Tchaikovsky's sublime large-scale work, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom - so rarely heard in its entirety.
Best known for his Romantic symphonies and ballets, Tchaikovsky was not devoutly religious. Nevertheless, he held a deep interest in the music of the Russian Orthodox Church, bringing his emotional frankness and tremendous talent for expressiveness to sacred text, and producing some of his most personal and moving music in this large-scale work.
‘As you can see, I am still bound to the Church by strong ties, but on the other hand I have long ceased to believe in the dogma … this constant inner struggle would be enough to drive me out of my mind were it not for music, that great comforter, the most exquisite gift Heaven has bestowed on a mankind living in darkness.’
With this work, Tchaikovsky led the way in dismantling the Imperial Chapel's censorship over the creation of sacred music in Russia at the time, with far-reaching implications for a generation of composers including Arkhangelsky, Chesnokov, Gretchaninov, Ippolitov-Ivanov and Rachmaninoff, who would emulate not just the subject matter but his structure and style too.