FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2020
THE CATHEDRAL CHORAL SOCIETY’S WORLD-PREMIERE RECORDING OF ALEXANDER KASTALSKY’S REQUIEM RECEIVES TWO GRAMMY® NOMINATIONS
Performance features the combined forces of the Cathedral Choral Society, Clarion Choir,
Saint Tikhon Choir, Kansas City Chorale, vocal soloists Anna Denis and Joseph Beutel, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s led by Leonard Slatkin
(WASHINGTON, DC)—On November 24, the Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 63rd Grammy® Awards. The CATHEDRAL CHORAL SOCIETY’S world-premiere recording of Alexander Kastalsky’s REQUIEM is nominated for Best Choral Performance and the album’s producer, Blanton Alspaugh, is nominated for Producer of the Year, Classical.
The album—which was recorded live in Washington’s National Cathedral on October 21, 2018, during a performance commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice—features the combined forces of the Kansas City Chorale, the Cathedral Choral Society, the Clarion Choir, Saint Tikhon Choir, with soloists Anna Dennis and Joseph Beutel, accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, led by conductor Leonard Slatkin. Kastalsky’s REQUIEM was released on August 28 and debuted atop the Traditional Classical Billboard chart in September 2020. Since its release, the album received many strong reviews including 5 Stars by the BBC’s Classical Music Magazine, Editor’s Choice by Allmusic, and in Gramophone magazine:
"The three soloists and four choirs involved have really grasped what is needed to communicate this complex work, and Slatkin’s driven direction of the Orchestra of St Luke’s means that the tension never lets up. It may have had to wait until now to be revealed to audiences but this is an extraordinary work and this fine recording will, I am convinced, ensure that it acquires a permanent place in the repertoire. "
- Ivan Moody, Gramophone
Alexander Kastalsky (1856-1926) began planning his Requiem during the summer of 1914. He conceived it “as a large-scale musical collage that would combine prayers for the dead drawn from the various liturgical traditions of the Allies – Orthodox Russia and Serbia, Roman Catholic France and Italy, and Anglican Britain.” A fourteen-movement version was completed in 1916, and performed in Petrograd on January 7, 1917 only 32 days before the beginning of the Russian Revolution. As the war raged and more nations joined the fight, Kastalsky composed three additional movements commemorating the soldiers of the United States of America, Japan, and India. Because performances of sacred music were prohibited after the rise of communism, the piece was nearly lost to history.
After a century in waiting, the CATHEDRAL CHORAL SOCIETY and four internationally renowned ensembles present the world-premiere recording of Kastalsky’s Requiem, a universal memorial echoing the tragedy and hope of the "war to end all wars," filled with the funerary melodies, hymns, marches, and folk music of the allied nations. The 63rd Grammy® Awards will be presented on January 31, 2021.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE ALBUM
BBC Music Magazine
“Leonard Slatkin and his first-rate team of musicians now present the first complete recording. …The American hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ bizarrely yet touchingly combined with Chopin’s Funeral March. Slatkin, who admits a deep belief in this work, draws a touching performance.”
“This is a very special release of a significant, attractive and moving choral work, here receiving its world premiere recording. Performances are committed, carefully prepared and idiomatic. “
“The recording is taken from 2018 performances at Washington National Cathedral, and given the resonant acoustic emerges with surprising clarity. The excellent Orchestra of St. Luke’s supports no less than four choirs under the authoritative direction of Leonard Slatkin. Of the two soloists, Joseph Charles Beutel’s solid bass baritone is powerful and sombre. By way of contrast, Anna Dennis’s warm soprano offers several real pick-me-up moments.”
“…This definitive recording, featuring the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Leonard Slatkin, brings together a spectrum of players including the Cathedral Choral Society, the Clarion Choir, the Saint Tikhon Choir and the Kansas City Chorale, who illuminate the work’s breathtaking array of meditative, sparse and nimble sonorities.
This is a highly reverential recording, distinguished by exquisite solo contributions from soprano Anna Dennis and bass-baritone Joseph Charles Beutel, supported with fine choral work by all of the vocal ensembles. Together they turn this awe-inspiring requiem into something truly memorable from the darkness of the Confutatis and the following Lacrymosa, the undulant Interludium: Hymn to Indra and the magnificent Domine Jesu. Through it all, Slatkin reveals the inner logic and structural grandeur of this complex work with exemplary clarity and inner detail.”
“The three soloists and four choirs involved have really grasped what is needed to communicate this complex work, and Slatkin’s driven direction of the Orchestra of St Luke’s means that the tension never lets up. …This is an extraordinary work and this fine recording will, I am convinced, ensure that it acquires a permanent place in the repertoire.”
“Naxos now presents the world premiere recording of the composition. It was recorded live in Washington Cathedral on 21 October 2018, during a concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. The Requiem is an impressive work with rich orchestral textures and soulful choruses and solo passages on themes such as death, destruction and mourning, but also hope, healing and redemption, which are strongly expressed in the outstanding performance under Leonard Slatkin.”
“This is essential listening! Conductor Leonard Slatkin does a superb job holding and melding together a variety of choirs, and leading the Orchestra of St. Luke’s: the performance could easily not have cohered as well as it does. An offbeat work that was well worth retrieving from the scrap heap of history; others will perform it again, but Slatkin has set the bar very high here.”
“The Requiem ends with the bells: part hugely imposing and celebratory and part seeming to reach out towards apotheosis from the bleak fog of chaos. The superb echoing resonance of the church acoustic is very present as the finale rings out. This fully-fleshed out Requiem has a tremendously dignified tread, noble grief and imperious ways. Naxos have done well by Kastalsky.”