REVIEW: Voskresenije, St Nicholas Church, Arundel.

What a privilege it was to hear at first hand the distinctive voices of a Russian choir in a Sussex church!

What a privilege it was to hear at first hand the distinctive voices of a Russian choir in a Sussex church!

Arundel’s beautiful St Nicholas Church, also featuring an exhibition of Icons, was the chosen venue of “Voskresenije” (Resurrection) – a professional ensemble of eight unaccompanied singers including an obligatory Basso Profundo who certainly reached parts other basses can’t reach! Conducted by their musical director, founder and arranger Jurij Maruk, the group is presently on a British tour, this being their only visit to Sussex. Based in St Petersburg, they have toured extensively throughout Europe, to great acclaim.

Tonight’s concert fell neatly into two parts, the first consisting of a variety of sacred songs performed with great warmth, power and sincerity, reflecting their Russian Orthodox background. However, they completed this set with a nod to German opera, with a beautiful performance of Handel’s famous aria Laschia Ch’io Pianga (Let me weep) from “Rinaldo”

After an interval, where members of the choir chatted to the audience over wine and a table of Russian artefacts and CDs, they returned suitably refreshed to sing some lighter-hearted folksongs, the ladies clad in their colourful shawls. Various members took it in turns to sing solos, sensitively accompanied by the group. A German drinking song widely-known as In Cellar Cool, was sung with gusto by our aforementioned Basso Profundo Anatoly Artamonov. This tune included great leaps and long pauses on some notes, causing other members to sigh and gaze at their watches! In comparison, tenor Andrey Volikov became a counter-tenor, his voice soaring into the stratosphere during his solo. Troikas, woodlands, gipsies, bells and the Volga all made their appearance, and finally Those Were the Days recalled Eurovision Song Contests when entries were tuneful.

An encore was demanded from the appreciative audience and we were rewarded by a dramatic performance of possibly the most familiar song of all – the toe-tapping Kalinka!

If you were unlucky enough to miss this unique concert, please visit http://voskresenije.blogspot.co.uk/ for details of further performances

Marilyn Dennis