The program of the Byzantine-Russian Liturgical Choir's Sunday night concert noted that "because of the sacred nature of the music the audience is requested not to applaud." But if the nature of the music made applause inappropriate, the quality of the performance made it all but compulsory.
The Choir, formed only this fall, demonstrated its versatility early in the program with two versions of the "Thrice Holy Hymn." They first sang the Hymn as Tchaikovsky wrote it, with power and spirit. They then presented an arrangement of the original Byzantine anthem, and their enthusiasm was transformed into disciplined solemnity.
In the first half of the program, the Choir sang part of the liturgy of the Byzantine Rite. The second part was devoted to Lenten and Easter hymns.
Not all of the members of the Choir speak Russian, and they sing from transliterations. Nevertheless, their diction was excellent. Even in the hymn "Lord, Have Mercy," in which an extremely difficult phrase is repeated rapidly and loudly, their pronounciation was flawless.
The Choir's intonation was equally exact, and they followed Boris Nicoloff's enthusiastic, demanding direction well. Their changes in dynamics were sometimes too abrupt, the performance was otherwise extremely well-controlled.