TheaterByte Gives Hymns of Kassianí Five Stars

TheaterByte’s Lawrence Devoe gives our new Hymns of Kassianí a Five-Star review!

“Having had the otherworldly experience when I reviewed Cappella Romana’s breakthrough recording of The Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia last year, I looked forward to their next installment in the Byzantine chant discography. This now arrives in the new release Hymns of Kassiani and represents one of the most important new recordings to reach my disc player in the past few years. … Hymns of Kassiani represents another recording triumph for the Cappella Records label. This kind of music is not often heard outside of Eastern Orthodox churches and it was a privilege and a pleasure to experience it in the comfortable environment of my own home. Highest recommendation.”

Lawrence Devoe, TheaterByte

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Robert Hugill Gives Four Stars to Hymns of Kassianí

Robert Hugill gives a Four-Star Review to Hymns of Kassianí on his Planet Hugill blog:

“much of the music on this disc is expansive, you need time to sit and allow the chant to expand and fill your consciousness. The music moves between the solid chant to more florid, flowing sections, the result is imaginative and I find it immensely appealing. … the performances are seductively intriguing. I have to confess that I know very little about Byzantine chant, but I love the sound world and this disc has introduced my to a new voice. … This is the first volume in what is planned as a series covering recordings of all of Kassiani’s surviving works. Personally, I can’t wait for the next instalment. … This music is very present and requires active listening, but the results do transport you to the sound-world of another era.”

—Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

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Audiophile Audition Gives Five Stars to Hymns of Kassianí

Audiophile Audition gives a five-star review to Cappella Romana’s Hymns of Kassianí recording:

“Kassia is especially known for one particular piece, the Hymn of Kassiani, so-called because of its placement in the orthros (matins) service of Holy Wednesday. It is a masterly composition of great pathos, commemorating the harlot who anointed the feet of Jesus and washed his hair with her tears, found in the gospel of Matthew. … But Kassia may have nearly 50 hymns in the repertory, with some attributed to other composers. This disc seeks to correct the perception that her only contribution is this holy week effort… The music itself has undergone many changes over the years according to the time and place of its use, but the beauty and obvious devotional qualities are very easy to apprehend. Those interested in something liturgically unique and different from the multitudinous bad recordings of Gregorian chant will find this refreshing and eye-opening. Kassia is definitely a composer to be reckoned with. Cappella Romana continues to turn out sensational recordings that are state-of-the-art in sound quality. This one has breadth, depth, warmth, and a phenomenal surround quality resonating with a physically palpable and penetrating effect that places you in the middle of an acoustically marvelous church. Alexander Lingas offers excellent, in-depth notes on many aspects of the life of Kassia and her music, and directs the ensemble (men, women, both together) in a performance of clarity and technical wizardry. This is a landmark recording that will still retain its importance for many years to come.

—Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

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Classical-Modern Music Review For Hymns of Kassianí

Hymns of Kassianí

Grego-Applegate Edwards has a grand new review and recommendation for our Hymns of Kassianí recording:

“It is rather exciting to me that the Early Music Cappella Romana has released an entire album of the Hymns of Kassiani (Capella Records CR422 SACD). … This is meant to be a first volume in a series that will record all of Kassiani’s works. … The SACD hybrid contains high quality two-channel and 5.0 Surround mixes. The sound is excellent. Cappella Romana gives us excellent, state-of-the-art performances of chants from male and mixed choirs, including two versions of her well-loved hymn for Holy Week. They are beautifully realized under the direction of Alexander Lingas. … I strongly recommend this album for anyone seeking to experience an important element of historical lifeways in music. It is ravishing, invariably, and quite refreshing if you are not familiar. Either way this one is a milestone.”

—Grego Applegate-Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review

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Hymns of Kassianí Gets Highest Rating from ConcertoNet

Critic Linda Holt gives ConcertoNet‘s highest rating (4 Stars) to our new Hymns of Kassianí recording!

“Cappella Romana… is transforming the dry, brittle pages of ancient Byzantine scores into living musical lyricism with a broad international appeal. … Their latest album provides a stunning entrée to the work of Kassianí, an Orthodox woman, monastic and saint from the 9th century, who is considered the earliest female composer from whom we have extant music. … While individuals with knowledge of the varieties of chant and church modes will enjoy this album on an intellectual or theological level, anyone sensitive to song will discover in Kassianí’s works a rare musical aesthetic … There is an organic yeastiness about this music and the way it not only spreads like a benign invasive plant, but insinuates itself through the listener’s ear into the reaches of the soul. … this album provides a new tool not only for self-examination but for indulgence in the rich sensual heritage of Byzantine singing. Kassianí’s songs demand to be heard, and we are enriched by listening to them, especially in this authentic and deeply expressive collection.”

—Linda Holt, ConcertoNet

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Five Stars for Hymns of Kassianí

Hymns of Kassianí gives Hymns of Kassianí a five-star rating in both performance and sonics!

“The importance of this new release is to allow us to go back in time to discover more about the origins of sacred choral music, and – perhaps a revelation for uninitiated – that Hildegard von Bingen wasn’t the first female composer. Three centuries (!) before her, St. Kassía of Constantinople (now Istanbul) composed “texts and music for Byzantine public worship”. … What struck me right away, is the high degree of professionalism of the mixed male-female chorale… For me, it is the spiritual force that emanates from these chants that make them so impressively intense and foreboding.… The full mystic weight invades your spirit like being back in the Eastern Orthodox time. Proof of Cappella Romana’s authenticity? For me, no doubt. We owe it to Alexander Lingas that these and other Byzantine memories from the mist of times are brought to life and recorded for eternity.”

—Adrian Quanjer,

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First Reviews for Hymns of Kassianí!

Cappella Romana’s new recording, Hymns of Kassianí comes out the 16th April, and reviewers are already excited:

“Cappella Romana are specialists in Byzantine chant, and this album is a stunner. The release is an SACD hybrid multichannel recording. If possible, opt for the physical disc rather than the digital download for this one. The release has both 2-channel and 5.0 surround formats, with 192k/24bit resolution. Hearing this recording in surround made me feel like I was standing in the Hagia Sofia when these hymns were new. I am so looking forward to the next installment.” —Ralph Graves, WTJU (full review)

“Especially when the men and women sing together, with the flowing melodies accompanied by a droning single note, it has a singularly powerful effect. If you turn it up and close your eyes you feel like you’re in a vast church or cathedral in the presence of something greater than the sum of the individual human voices surrounding you… sit back and listen, and let Cappella Romana’s superb singers transport you back to the Byzantine Empire.” —Jon Sobel, BlogCritics (full review)

“The music is rather striking with pedal points that provide a base line against the chant lines that stay mostly syllabic with little melismas for extra emphasis.  Listeners more familiar with Gregorian Chant will also notice a decidedly different modal quality with the unique lines turning in unique ways that have closer parallels in Middle Eastern chant styles. … The performances transport the listener back in time to experience this music in stunning sound.  Notes and additional information in the accompanying booklet help further bring Kassiani’s music to life by the premiere ensemble performing these ancient Byzantine music.  More music from the woman canonized as Kassiani the Hymnographer is forthcoming this year. … Highly Recommended!” —Steven A. Kennedy, Cinemusical

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Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia in Choir and Organ

The March/April 2021 issue of Choir and Organ Magazine has a review for our Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia recording:

“Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia from Cappella Romana, directed by Alexander Lingas, is an extraordinary feat – the first vocal album ever to be recorded in live virtual acoustics. … Stunningly convincing sounds emerge as these accomplished experts in medieval Byzantine chant flow seamlessly through eastern inflections with marmoreal vocal qualities in material impeccably researched and unimpeachably convincing. … They claim that this will ‘transport you back in time’ – a clichéd boast which for once is under-inflated. No chant enthusiast should be without it.”

—Rebecca Tavener, Choir and Organ

See the full review in the March/April issue of Choir and Organ Magazine

Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in The Living Church Magazine

Geoffrey Williams reviews Benedict Sheehan and The Saint Tikhon Choir’s recording of Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom for The Living Church Magazine:

“Sheehan and his fine singers have brought to life a new piece that bridges the gap both between the centuries and between the traditions of East and West. The choir is a blend of seminarians and professional choral artists from across the country. This blend is apparent in the cohesive singing, but also in the clear, shared intent of interpretation, a credit to the composer as conductor. … this performance sets a new standard for excellence in the American choral landscape. … this performance expresses text with a fresh clarity of intention from movement to movement. … Sheehan’s compositional voice follows in the footsteps of the 20th and 21st century phenomena Arvo Pärt, Jon Tavener, and Ivan Moody, taking a uniquely American approach and color when paired with the influence of ancient chant. This approach is remarkably unsentimental, which reflects a real sense of compositional maturity. … [a] vibrant contribution to the choral repertoire both in and outside of the Lord’s temple.”

—Geoffrey Williams, The Living Church

Five Stars for Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy from Audiophile Audition

Audiophile Audition‘s Steven Ritter gives a five-star rating to Benedict Sheehan and the Saint Tikhon Choir’s recording of Benedict Sheehan’s Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom:

“The work itself is fresh and vibrant… Orthodox worship is not to play solely to the emotions, but to provoke gratitude and compunction in the hearers. The above statement is perhaps what I like best about Sheehan’s liturgy. … This is a testament to the power of this offering in that it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but to the functional worship of God in a liturgical setting. There are memorable moments in the piece, but they are encountered in the context of the immediate worship experience. … This is a superb effort on many fronts, not least of which is the quality of the work itself. The production is engineered by the wonderful technicians at Soundmirror, which is self-recommending, and the St. Tikhon’s ensemble is spot on, captured in brilliant surround sound. Here’s hoping that more releases like this, from Sheehan and others, are in the offing for the near future.”

—Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

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