Dmitri Smirnov “Our Lady’s Rejoicing In Sorrow”

NF/PMA 9926

Chamber Choir LEGE ARTISBoris Abalian, conductor
Lyudmila Shkirtil, mezzo-soprano
Andrey Bolshiyanov, saxophone
Recorded Live from the concert of the Northern Flowers Fifth International Chamber Music Festival at the St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg, October 20th, 2004
Sound recording and supervision: Alexey Barashkin.  Text: Pavel Dmitriev.  English text: Sergey Suslov.
Design: Anastassiya Evmenova & Oleg Fakhrutdinov
Cover: Theophanes the Greek. Faces of the Virgin and the Infant Christ. Detail from The Virgin of the Don

Catalogue Number:
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Barcode: 4607053326567
Price: £9.99

  Selections from Medieval Russian Vocal Art
1. Rejoices In Thee (Greek chant, female choir)
2. Lo, Triple-Shining Light To Inflame Thee (Znamenny chant arranged for parts, mixed choir)
3. It Is Meet (Byzantine chant, male choir)
4. Angel Crying (Bulgarian chant, male choir, soloist: Dmitry Yegorov)
5. 5. Miracle Great and Most Glorious (concerto for 16-voice mixed choir)
  Dmitry Smirnov (born 1952)
Our Lady’s Rejoicing In Sorrow (2001)
To sacred texts.
Choral frescos for female voice, saxophone (soprano), and mixed choir
 6. Hail Mary
7. Over The Hills Of Zion
8. 8. Mother Mary Is Mother To Me
9. 9. Our Lady’s Dream
10. Our Lady’s Lament
11. Prayer To Our Lady
12. Славник


Music of Dmitry Smirnov has been an integral part of Petersburg’s musical life for many years. Most of his works are in demand with performers and can be heard both in and outside Russia, and his name has become to us a synonym of highest musical quality. The composer has created his own choral language based on deep strata of Russian music. Compositions by Smirnov always carry a powerful spiritual charge so much needed by us in today’s world. They are a link between achievements of the past and music of today.
On one hand, Smirnov’s opus is non-traditional in terms of its genre definition, and its textual base using both canonical and apocryphal plotlines from Our Lady’s life and the Hail Mary prayer along with folkloric texts, and in the structure of its performers (choir, female voice – and saxophone). On the other hand, folkloric texts and chants have always existed in Russian culture in parallel to clerical ones, and are especially close to Russian popular perception.
Releasing this recording made at a concert, we would like to preface it not with an abstract from the composer’s interview:
— E. N. Razumovskaya, a folklore researcher and long-time student of “sacred verses”, prompted the name to me. Although such texts construe the New Testament with much liberty, everything in them is Christian and true to the church. When I was looking for the most precise definition of the genre, I thought that the concept might be viewed as “the Passion”, understood as the Passion of Christ and Mother of God at once. If we read the words “I will put thy relics in a shroud / I will paint thy representation on an Icon”, and if all the subsequent events are forecast already in mother’s womb, it can be understood just so… Surely the unknown teller did not know the Holy Writ by chapter and verse, but he did enrich it with many details in his retelling… Or maybe, he knew the Writ well, but it was his plan to choose a format much freer in terms of genre. I may be said to have followed the teller. Furthermore, this helped me to avoid certain parallels or analogy with well-known composers and their works.
Soprano saxophone added to the score may be nearly frightening at first, as you anticipate its sound unusual for sacred music to spoil the impression, but after a while you realize that its use is proper and even organic.
— More than that, I suppose there is still a reserve, if we are talking about this part. And this is not to break any traditions. I wanted to purify the nature of soprano saxophone, to remove undue features that have stuck to it by and by. This instrumental timbre has enabled communicating through sounds what she (Mother of God) is unable to say, setting up a multi-facet dialog between them… While the chorus creates an environment, rather than a background, for their dialog.

1. Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

3. Mother of Mine, Holy Mary
Mother of mine, Holy Mary,
Purest Holiest Virgin.
Bright sun
Purest dove
Mother of God, Blessed Virgin.
Ready Helper,
Warm Defender,
Defend me, save, and have mercy.

4. Our Lady’s Dream
It was in famous Jerusalem town,
in that cathedral Holy Church,
I, Mother of God, did sleep behind the altar.
Though I, Virgin, did not sleep long.
I, Virgin, did have many dreams:
I dreamed I gave birth to thee, Child Christ,
And wrapped thee, Child, up in veils,
And enveloped thee in silk covers.
Next, miraculous son, I saw thy cross,
thy vivifying cross, my miraculous son.
Lo, that mount called Golgotha,
and that holy wood called cypress,
where, child, thou art to be killed,
thy ribs pierced with a spear,
thy head broke with a club,
and that thou, Child, art to be blood-stained.”
“Needst not tell me, Holy Mary, Mother,
for I have seen the dream long before,
and Mother, I can guess it myself.
That I, Christ, am to be crucified,
spear-pierced through my ribs,
that my head is to be broken with a club,
and that I, Christ, am to be blood-stained.”
Mary, Mother of God, wept aloud saying,
“Child! To whom art thou leaving me,
to whose care art thou entrusting me?”
“I am leaving thee, Mother, to John,
to John, the Divine one, a friend, Mother,
a friend to me Christ.
Mother, it won’t take many, or few days,
Mother, I will resurrect on the third day,
Mother, I’ll be to thee from heaven myself,
and will take thy soul out of thee myself,
I will bury thy relics with the saints,
yea, Mother, with them holy Cherubim,
yea, Mother, with them glorious Seraphim.
I will put thy relics in a shroud,
I will paint thy representation on an Icon,
I will place thy image on the altar.
They will pray to God looking at thee,
and they will eulogize thee, Mother
and glorify me, Christ, too.
Praised be thou, Christ our God,
Now and forever, and unto the ages of ages!
He who knows this sacred dream,
Yea, he who guesses this sacred dream,
Yea, and he who follows this sacred dream,
Will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen!

2. Across the Hills, the Hills of Zion
Across the hills, the hills of Zion.
Across those hills, those hills so steep,
Across an open field, in Holy Russia,
The Blessed Virgin walked weeping,
Near her, three myrrh women screamed.
And she beat herself against the ground, and she nearly died.
Woe to me, Mother Earth, take me in.
Our Savior, my beloved and my hope,
Why didst not thou listen to thy mother?
Thou wast told to live forever,
Now thou art in for unfair death.
Thou art spilling thy innocent blood,
Art leaving me, thy mother, all alone.
Who will care for me in my old age?

5. Our Lady’s Lament
O my precious Son, my hope,
Thou suffer’st passions and death on the cross at thy own will.
My heart is being tormented now,
My flesh joints are falling apart now,
My mouth is baked with blood now,
My throat is barred with sorrow now.
O my precious Son, my joy,
why art thou leaving me alone here?
I would meet my death along with thee.
Who will soothe me now in my bitter tears?
Now the Simon’s prophecy is coming true,
And its words are right.
All the apostles have run away full of fear,
and of great horror,
leaving me alone here to weep…
O my Son, who will help me in my tears?
Archangel Gabriel, wilt thou help me!
O my joy, thou art sunk into the grave.

6. Prayer to Our Lady
Mary, my Mother and my Sovereign,
I deliver my soul and body to thee,
And my life and my death
and what comes after death.
All I commend into thy hands.
O Mother of mine, cover me with thy virgin veil
and grant me the grace of pure heart, soul, and body.
Protect against all enemies by thy power.
O beautiful lily, Mother of mine,
Thou art my ideal.

7. Glorification
Sound the trumpet in a song to praise the special day of our celebration,
dissipating the dark and the light of advent shining brighter than the sun!
And everyone’s Queen and Sovereign and Mother of God.
Mother of everyone’s Creator Christ our God
Hearing the prayers of her unworthy servants, inclines to mercy
And graciously, invisibly, reaching hands to her Son and our God,
Offers a prayer for all Russia and promotes His righteous petition…
O great grace of the Sovereign!
O great generosity of the Queen!
O great patronage of Mother of God,
How she begged out her Son and our God
by advent of her honored image and above any word,
saving the town and all people from disaster and death.
Rejoice, the House of God and animated Temple of King Christ our God.
Rejoice, outpouring of grace and bounties and God’s design.
Rejoice, haven of those applying to thee,
And of our protection and delivery and salvation.

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