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Romeiko Ensemble has released the following recordings that are available in North America.



Christ Comes From Heaven

From the second line of the Katavasia of the Nativity(composed by St. Gregory Nazianzens) comes the title of this recording of the Matins of Nativity, which was originally released as the CD in Byzantine Christmas. That production, sub-titled “The Celebration of the Nativity in the Christian East in Word, Image and Song,” included a hard-bound book with multiple essays on the Incarnation and copious color plates of icons of the Nativity.  In this recording, Romeiko Ensemble replaces the Greek Carols with eleven new tracks, including the complete Canon and Praises performed in long and ornate melodies, sings the three Polyeleos of the Feast, and performs O Lord, protest our Master  from the hierarchal Matins service in the presence of a Bishop.  Most notable is that they perform this Medieval Byzantine chant in English for the benefit of the English speaking audience. [Note: the Greek Carols can be found on the sister recording Christ on Earth].

Early Review:
The performance of a hymn written with a meter in one language is rarely successful in translation. I am really impressed, however, with the quality of the CD “Christ Comes From Heaven” as is performed by the Romeiko Ensemble and recommend it to all Americans Orthodox faithful and non-Orthodox music lovers as a true and authentic example of Byzantine musical interpretation rendered in the English language.”
                    Anastasios Lazaridis, Ph.D.
                    Trained in Byzantine Chant in Constantinople



Christ on Earth (Xpristos epi ges)

Christ on Earth is the Greek version of the service of Nativity Matins, originally released in 2007 in Greece.  This first release of the service performed in medieval Byzantine chant contains the core hymns of the service:  The Apolytikion, parts of the Canon and Kontakia, Praises and Katabasia, as typically sung in a Greek Orthodox church.  In addition, the recording includes a delightful selection of five regional Nativity carols (kallanta),  This recording was well received upon its release in Greece and became the foundation for the creation of Christ Comes From Heaven in English.



Today, upon the Cross: The Ninth Royal Hour and Apokathelosis Services of Good Friday as celebrated at Hagia Irene, Istanbul

The Church of Hagia Irene, Istanbul, Turkey, is a much smaller and older church than Hagi Sophia. It became the Palace church for the Emperor and his family, after the construction of Hagia Sophia by Justinian. The service of the Royal Hours has its origin in the Palace church, and on Good Friday, the Royal Hours included the Emperor and his family. This production by Romeiko Ensemble, based on manuscript transcriptions by Ioannis Arvanitis, recreates the Royal Hour Nine and Apokathilosis services of Good Friday on CD and re-enacts them on HD digital disc. The chant heard here is from the original 13th century manuscripts which resides in the collection of the National Library in Athens. Greek Carols of Good Friday and a Cyprian Lament of Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross are sung and played by the Cherubic Children's Chorus. Includes hymn text in Greek and English, extensive notes, manuscript copies and detailed with beautiful medieval iconography. The DVD includes 9 chapters.

Like some of the previous Romeiko Ensemble recordings, this is indeed a production with its aim being not only recreating the Byzantine chant of Holy Friday as it would have been heard in the Palace Church (Hagia Irene), but also taking the listener on a visual tour via the DVD. Thus, this is not on a musical production, but a type of architectural/historical/musicological tour guide of just what it would have been like to have been an observer of these services before the Byzantine Emperor at the time. The quality of the DVD is exquisite: ultra high resolution, superb cinematography and editing--suffice it to say, you feel like you're there. What is added in a unique turn is a very good quality and delightful children's chorus that sing the "folk laments" that form part of the Holy Friday tradition in Greece. Added to that is the superb rendition of the manuscript transcriptions by Romeiko Ensemble, and the experience is exquisite overall. For any fan of Romeiko Ensemble, or anyone serious about the history of Byzantine chant, this will be a library addition you will return to frequently.




The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil in Mode Plagal II

This second recording of the Divine Liturgy by Romeiko Ensemble brings to contemporary audiences a classic arrangement by one of the Byzantine Maistores (Byzantine Masters of compsition), that of Ioannes Kladas in Mode II Plagal. Kladas (a contemporary of Ioannes Koukouzelis) was the most prominent master musician of the Great Church in the 14th Century. The recording includes the hymns of the Liturgy in their entirety, along with the Anapora hymns of St. Basil's Liturgy, the Creed and two Terrirem. This undertaking is once again made possible by the scholarship of Ioannes Arvanitis in transcribing the original medieval manuscripts, and Romeiko Ensembles world renown ability to perform Byzantine Chant in an authentic manner true to the original arrangements. Contains hymns text in English and Greek, manuscript reproductions, extensive notes and illustrated with medieval iconography.

This recording of the Divine Liturgy continues Romeiko Ensembles series of recordings of "authentic Byzantine chant," i.e. performances of chant from transcriptions of actual medieval manuscripts. In this instance we are (for most listeners) introduced to one of the great medieval arrangers, Ioannis Kladas. The result is both authentic and genuinely uplifting. As usual, the execution of the chant is superb, the quality of the recording is top notch, and the liner notes replete with manuscript reproductions and glorious medieval mosaic icon frescoes is glorious. Hearing the service the way it was performed at the height of the Byzantine Empire both important and edifying. It allows us to connect to our sacred music history, and be spiritually encouraged at the same time. There are very few recordings of the St Basil Liturgy (mainly due to its infrequent use limited to the Great Lent), none other based on medieval manuscripts, and this recording is a wonder vehicle to facilitate the listener's Lenten Journey.

He Cometh At Midnight – The Bridegroom Service of Great & Holy Monday

This recording of the Bridegroom Service (Vespers and Matins) of Holy Monday includes all the hymns and is based on previously unpublished medieval compositions, and chanted antiphonally in Greek and English by two choirs. The digipak includes extensive liner notes booklet in English with hymn text in both English and Greek. Also included are notes from the director on the production, a short description of the service in the Eastern Orthodox Holy Week service structure, and writings by St. John of Damascus and St. Ambrose of Milan on the two themes of the service: the withered fig tree and the Patriarch Joseph. The cover illustration is a Nymphios icon commissioned especially for this production, and the interior is illustrated with never before reproduced medieval icon miniatures of the Patriarch Joseph in Egypt.



The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom – Mode I

A complete recording of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with Priest, Deacon and Cantors performed on a Sunday of First Mode. Recorded live at St. Anargyroi Church in Athens, Greece. It includes all hymns and litanies as well as the "silent" celebrant's prayers joyously intoned on 2 CDs. More than just a collection of the hymns of the liturgy, this is a representative recording of the Divine Liturgy itself. This recording is the world premiere presentation of the papadic melodies of Byzantine master Ioannes Kladas (14th c.), as well as the Typika in Mode I. Chanted in Greek, and packaged in a small hard-bound, full color booklet (48 pages), the liner notes include commentary by the scholar Rev. Maximos Lavriotes of Cambridge University (UK) on the Divine Liturgy and complete text of the service in English.

Fr. Apostolos Hill’s review of this recording says it all: “This recording of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is perhaps the finest such recording yet produced. The Romeiko Ensemble’s dedication to their craft is apparent throughout. Most importantly, this recording is the complete recording of the Liturgy inclusive of the ektenias and the prayers of the celebrant. As such it provides context of worship often lacking on other similar recordings. Both beautiful and prayerful, this recording is a must-have for any serious lover of Byzantine music.”



From Adam Unto Joseph

This features the music of the Forefeast of the Nativity in two CDs within a full color book treating the subject of Christ's Nativity and its associated chant. The Forefeast and the Feast of the Nativity are among the most significant periods of the liturgical year, and this production offers some of the most important chant selections from the Nativity period. Notably, the kalophonic composition Δανιλ ανρ επιθυμιν (the Glory of Matins from the Sunday before Christmas) of Petros Bereketis in Mode Six (plagal of Tone II).



Christ in the City of Bethlehem (Vithleem Etoimazou)

This is the 2-CD set of the music of the Forefeast of Nativity found in “From Adam Unto Joseph” in a smaller, more affordable format. The Byzantine chant offers a collection of some of the most important selections of this festal period with a reduced commentary and limited examples of original texts.

The hymns are chanted in Greek, with complete text provided in Greek and English. The 47 page, full color book is hard bound for protection and presentation. Together, the CDs and book make a wonderful gift at a value price.


 

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