Greek Byzantine Choir – Christmas Hymnes (1993)

FrontCover1.jpgByzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire. Originally it consisted of songs and hymns composed to Greek texts used for courtly ceremonials, during festivals, or as paraliturgical and liturgical music. The ecclesiastical forms of Byzantine music are the best known forms today, because different Orthodox traditions still identify with the heritage of Byzantine music, when their cantors sing monodic chant out of the traditional chant books such as sticherarion, which in fact consisted of five books, and the heirmologion.

Byzantine music did not disappear after the fall of Constantinople. Its traditions continued under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 was granted administrative responsibilities over all Orthodox Christians. During the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, burgeoning splinter nations in the Balkans declared autonomy or “autocephaly” against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The new self-declared patriarchates were independent nations defined by their religion.

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In this context, Christian religious chant practiced in the Ottoman empire, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece among other nations, was based on the historical roots of the art tracing back to the Byzantine Empire, while the music of the Patriarchate created during the Ottoman period was often regarded as “post-Byzantine”. This explains why Byzantine music refers to several Orthodox Christian chant traditions of the Mediterranean and of the Caucasus practiced in recent history and even today, and this article cannot be limited to the music culture of the Byzantine past. (by wikipedia)

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These are hundreds to over a thousand year old Byzantine hymns, of ancient beauty and devotion. Features one of the best chanters (Psalti) and choruses, Angelopoulis, who also appears on several CD’s of ancient Roman chant (was Byzantine in style) done by Harmonia Mundi label’s Marcel Peres, who brings to life ancient church music. The melodies are often in a minor key, are of great beauty and the words are from or paraphrased from the Bible. Entrancing. Getting an English translation would make it easier to appreciate if you don’t know Greek; see the booklet. One of the best. (by Karl Schulte)

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Personnel:
Greek Byzantine Choir conducted by Lycourgos Angelopoulos

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Tracklist:
01. Romanos the Melodist, Kontakion: Today the Virgin 1.28
02. Petros Bereketis, 3 Heirmoi: Odes 1,5,9 / 4.36
03. Iakevos Protopsaltis, Doxastikon for the Sunday preceding Christmas: Glory Be To The Father 6.44
04. Kathisma: Come, O Ye Faithful and Let Us Behold 1.34
05. Heirmoi for the 1st Canon of Christmas: Odes 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 / 7.54
06. Petros Lambadarios: Glory to God in the Highest 1.56
07. Petros Lambadarios & Verses from the Great Doxology: Today Christ is Born 4.06
08. Chant for Communion: The Lord Hath Sent Deliverence Unto His People 10.30
09. Petros Lambadarios, Troparion: Thou Wast Born Secretly in the Cave 2.25
10. Petros Lambadarios, Exapostilarion: Our Savior Has Descended Unto us From on High 1.17
11. Petros Lambadarios, Doxastikon: Glory to the Father, to the Son & to the Holy Spirit (The Magi, Kings of Persia) 2.48
12. Petros Lambadarios, Sticheron: All the Angels in Heaven 1.54
13. Petros Lambadarios, Apolytikion: Thy Nativity, O Christ Our God 0.59
14. Balasios The Priest, Calophonic Heirmoi: A Star Has Already Risen 4.38
15. Ioannis Trapezountios: Kratima 4.26

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