The Houston Chamber Choir, under the direction of Robert Simpson, has produced a sparkling new CD that showcases the little-known area of Russian secular choral music. That the secular choral music of Russia receives less attention from performers than its sacred counterpart can be explained by the fact that sacred titles outnumber the secular by a ratio of approximately 80 to 20. Yet many of the composers who are best known for their sacred choral works, e.g. Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kalinnikov, and others, wrote lovely secular part-songs as well, as this CD demonstrates. Others, such as Arensky, Cui, Dargomyzhsky, and Taneyev, are known primarily for their secular choruses, which deserve a great deal more attention than they've received to this time. Finally, the CD taps the unexplored wealth of Soviet-era choral songs (represented by Salmanov, Falik, and Gavrilin), written during a time when sacred music was severely suppressed.
"Ravishing is right. The choir’s idiomatic pronunciation, smooth ensemble work and generally excellent intonation serve the music with just the right amount of style and class.”
- Laurence Vittes, Gramophone
“The singing is top-of-the-line, with all the requisite elements coming together in gracious service to this unfamiliar fare.”
- American Record Guide