The Estonian Music Awards 2023 have announced the best albums of the year in Estonia. The EPCC album with the Rachmaninov’s “Liturgy of St John Chrysostom” was titled as the Best Choral Music Album and the nominee of the Best Classical Music Album in Estonia. The album is released by BIS Records, conductor Kaspars Putniņš, sound engineer Jens Braun.
The music of the Russian Orthodox Church was an essential part of Sergei Rachmaninov’s musical background. As a boy he was deeply moved by the sound of St Petersburg’s cathedral choirs, and phrases reminiscent of liturgical chant permeate his music. His Vespers has long been admired as a summit of Russian liturgical music. It has unfortunately tended to overshadow the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, his earlier large-scale sacred composition. Named after the fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople and Church Father, the Liturgy consists of a sequence of prayers, psalms and hymns, which are sung or chanted by the different participants in the service.
Rachmaninov did not make use of any existing chants (as he would later do in his Vespers), but chose to reflect their style and spirit with music entirely of his own. The sonorities he creates is rarely achieved by plain four-part writing: instead the voices are frequently divided, solos emerge from the choir, and the range of textures shows great imagination. The Liturgy is here performed in the warm acoustics of the Niguliste Church in Tallinn by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – listed among the ten best choirs in the world by the BBC Music Magazine in 2020. (BIS Records)
Recording for labels as ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi and Ondine is an important aspect in the choir’s life, resulting in various award-winning CDs. The EPCC recordings have twice won a Grammy-Award for Best Choral Performance: in 2007 for the album of Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem (Harmonia Mundi) with conductor Paul Hillier and Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament (ECM) with conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. All in all, the choir has 15 Grammy nominations with works by Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and the music from the Nordic countries. In 2018 the recording „Schnittke – Psalms of Repentance. Pärt – Magnificat & Nunc dimittis” (BIS), conducted by Kaspars Putniņš, won Gramophone Award. The EPCC recordings have also won the award Diapason d’Or, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Danish Music Award, de Choc de l’Année Classica 2014, and more.
The choir’s albums have won the Best Classic Album title in Estonia for two times – for the recording of Max Reger’s and Rudolf Tobias’ music on the album “Vivit!”(2014) and for Tõnu Kõrvits’ “Moorland Elegies” (2018).