Alfred Schnittke‘s Psalms of Repentance (1988) are not biblical Psalms but take for their texts a set of non-liturgical poems by a 16th century Russian monk, recounting a story of martyrdom involved with the founding of Christianity in Russia. The work was first performed at ceremonies marking the millennium of that event. The Psalms have gained several performances by top choral groups, tending to support predictions that the late works of Schnittke, often religious, may prove to be his most significant. They build dense polyphony on top of chant-like bases, creating a muscular texture with an effect distinct from that of Arvo Pärt‘s holy minimalism, also represented on this album by the well-known Magnificat and Nunc dimittis. Performers can take it in different directions: monumental, more Pärt-like, or, as here, intense and sensuous. Conductor Kaspars Putnins obtains from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir a sound quite different from what they may be used to with Pärt, building up tension that is dissipated in the ethereal wordless finale. They’re backed by fine sound from the appropriate St. Nicholas’ Church in Tallinn. Highly recommended, especially as an introduction to the late Schnittke style.