Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:

GRAMOPHONE (08/2021)
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information

Cappella Romana

Code-barres / Barcode : 746839858992


Outil de traduction (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)

Reviewer: Thomas May

The name Kassianí (c810-c865) has long been familiar to adherents of the Greek Orthodox faith as the author of an eponymous Holy Week hymn that gives a strikingly empathetic depiction of repentance and regret. Indeed, the woman who wrote the ‘Hymn of Kassianí’ is even revered as a saint in the Orthodox Church and figures in Byzantine folklore as a potential bride wooed by Emperor Theophilos. Rejected on account of her impudent cleverness, goes the legend, Kassianí or Kassia (as she seems to have called herself) retreated from aristocratic privilege into a life of religious contemplation, later founding a monastery in her native Constantinople. Yet because of misattributions, and possibly owing to deliberate efforts by church authorities to erase Kassianí’s name, the vast majority of her output remains unacknowledged – some 49 hymns have survived, not to mention her non-liturgical poetry.

Alexander Lingas, founder and director of Cappella Romana, based in Portland, Oregon, has set out to rectify this injustice with his vocal ensemble’s 25th release to date. It presents examples of her hymns for Christmas, Lent and Holy Week, including two later medieval reworkings of the ‘Hymn of Kassianí’, and inaugurates a new project to record and publish the complete hymns of Kassianí. The booklet includes Lingas’s excellent, lengthy background essay on Kassianí, her reception and the historical context of medieval Byzantine chant, along with the original Greek texts and translations.

Recognised among the pre-eminent interpreters of Eastern Orthodox chant, Cappella Romana are ideally suited to the task, combining deep familiarity with the tradition and advances in scholarship relating to historic performance practice (involving, for example, the use of drones, ornamentation and rhythmic articulation and countervailing distortions resulting from the Western lens of Gregorian chant). What makes this album so remarkable, in addition to its focus on the first extant music known to be by a female composer, is the genuinely transportive effect of the a cappella singing, which varies among male, female and mixed-choir settings for the 15-voice ensemble and is captured on surround-sound SACD. Sung with such focus, balance and clarity, Kassianí’s time-defying flow of melodies imparts serene glimpses into eternity.

Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à gauche)
Livraison mondiale

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and currency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper left corner of the page)
Worldwide delivery


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews