Intrada's highly polished, gorgeously produced concert on the Great Feast Day of Orthodox Christmas featured the grand acoustics of Moscow's Yelokhovo Cathedral, the vicarial church of the Moscow Patriarchs, and a program that ranged from music by Peter the Great's favorite composer Vasily Titov to Sviridov, Schnittke and Galina Grigorjeva. Whether it was Orthodox chant, Bortniansky, Stravinsky or Rachmaninov, the music all shared a genuinely spiritual quality that imparted a ritual feel to the proceedings.

Intrada and Ekaterina Antonenko
© Live from London

This was immediately apparent from the opening when the sheer physical beauty of the singers, supple, nuanced, rich at the top, middle and bass, created vast 12-part tapestries by Titov and the composer priest Vasily Gusev, including first performances since their composition centuries ago.

Charming performances of two lovely pieces by Dmitri Bortniansky, harpsichordist to Catherine the Great, introduced a new voice, Mozartian in its confident classical tone and lightly hedonistic aesthetic sensitivities, in the form of that curious animal the “choral concerto”, of which he wrote many – his liturgical compositions in ten volumes were edited by Tchaikovsky.

Ekaterina Antonenko
© Live from London

As the program moved ahead in time, to the Bogoroditse Devo from Rachmainov's Vespers, to Stravinsky's Podblyudnye for women’s voices, to Schnittke's Winter, the seriousness of the occasion righted itself, with no carols in sight until the well-known Ukrainian folk song Shchedryk provided a gentle transition to matters here on earth as an encore for the empty hall and online audience.

The sense of devotional purpose was also reflected in the formailty of the Russian texts themselves, even in the Stravinsky folksongs, as well as by the exquisite, seamless singing that was serene on its surface and deeply emotional at its heart. Intrada's artistic director Ekaterina Antonenko introduced the music the way she conducted, with graceful, unassuming love.

This performance was reviewed from the Live from London video stream