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P. Antonov

«The Symbol of Faith» by A. Grechaninov and its interpretations by the choirs of pre-revolutionary Russia

The article is devoted to the chant by A. Grechaninov “I Believe” from the “Liturgy of John Chrysostom” No. 2. The purpose of the study is to determine the original author’s idea that made the composition one of the most popular and performed in the pre-revolutionary era. The article examines the role of the composer in the Russian church music of the early 20th century and his position as a reformer in this area. The next section describes the meaning of the Symbol of Faith in Orthodox worship and the specificities of different approaches to its sound manifestation in the Russian liturgical tradition. Furthermore, the author highlights the polemic of the late 19th century regarding the singing and reading of this text. Next the article presents a musical analysis of the A. Grechaninov’s composition, which is based on a synthesis of church recitative and choral singing.

In conclusion, a comparison of the interpretations of the chant by three pre-revolutionary collectives – the choir of A. Arkhangelsky (St. Petersburg), the choir of I. Yukhov and the Chudovsky choir under the direction of Ya. Nikolsky (Moscow) – is presented. Despite the technical imperfection of the recording equipment of that era, these archival recordings are of particular interest to modern performers as examples of the interpretation of the same composition by the masters of Church art. This section raises the questions of compliance with the author’s idea and possible contexts of performance – liturgical and concert.

While working on the article, the author studied all the available preserved recordings of sacred music of the named collectives. The reissued recordings of 1908–1914, made by the companies “Gramophon”, “Zonophon” and “Favorit Record” were chosen as a material for the performing analysis of A. Grechaninov’s work.

Key words

A. Grechaninov, Liturgy, Symbol of Faith, church singing, pre-revolutionary recordings, author’s sacred music, performing interpretation.

For citation

Antonov P. «The Symbol of Faith» by A. Grechaninov and its interpretations by the choirs of pre-revolutionary Russia // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2021. No. 3. Pp. 97–103.