Stravinsky had, after an absence, returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1925 or 1926 (he himself was not clear about the year), and recorded that the poor quality of both music and singing in the Russian Church at Nice led him to write the Three Sacred Choruses
, as the Lord’s Prayer
, and Ave Maria
are sometimes collectively known. They were actually completed at different times: in 1926, 1932, and 1934 respectively. They are simple and severe; wishing to try to establish connections with a tradition of Church music earlier than the utterly Italianate Bortnyansky, Stravinsky partly invented and partly remembered (from the services he had attended in his youth) a plain, syllabic style, essentially modal in harmony. The pieces are, for this very reason, extremely moving. The Latin versions of the texts were made later; and the composer also made a version of the Credo
in 1964 with the fauxbourdon clearly written out. It is upon this that the present performance is based.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 1991