Viktor Kalinnikov, younger brother of Vasily (known in particular for his First Symphony) was born to a poor family but followed his brother to the Moscow Philharmonic School and like him played in various theatre orchestras, eventually teaching at the Moscow Conservatory until his death in 1927.
“Kalinnikov belongs to the group of Russian choral composers whose activities centered around the Moscow Synodal School and its famed choir of men and boys in the first two decades of the 20th century… Kalinnikov created sacred choral works of textural richness, timbral variety, and profound spiritual reverence, always maintaining the preeminence of the sacred liturgical text. In particular, his works are characterized by colorful harmonic writing, coupled with subtlety and delicacy of expressive means” (Musica Russica)
Wherwell Singers will be opening their Christmas Concert this year with Kalinnikov’s gentle Bogoroditse Devo, a setting of the Old Church Slavonic text (the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church), which can be broadly translated as follows:
Virgin Mary, Mother of God, rejoice;
Holy Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb;
For Thou hast given birth to the Savior of our souls.