„Benediction” might well characterise Blazhenstva, a setting of the Beatitudes written for the 70th birthday of Rostropovich… What is certain is the consistency of its evolution – from an opening section in which soprano and bass are accompanied by sparse piano chords, through one of slowly descending string harmonies and another where the choir expounds the text over undulating string chords, to a final section where the cello is gradually left alone in musing introspection. Whether Blazhenstva is music to be experienced once rather than to be heard repeatedly is for each listener to decide, though the quality of performance and recording make the experience an involving one.
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone
Lamento for solo cello begins with soloist Ivan Monighetti tearing a hole in the surrounding silence. Carving out a series of jarring double-stopped chords, this staccato assault on the instrument sounds more protestation than lament. The toccata-like writing of the opening gives way to a central section that consists of glacial harmonics and sul ponticello murmurings, out of which emerges a haunting, five-note melodic motif of beguiling simplicity. …
Dedicated to Rostropovich on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, the disc’s title track dates from 1996. … Constructed from the most basic materials – quietly tolling chords in the piano, the unadorned luminosity of soprano and bass voices – the entire raison d’être of this impossibly gentle, unhurried work appears to be to dissever the listener from the terrestrial plane. Like the Pärt of Für Alina or the Silvestrov of Silent Songs, Blazhenstva possesses a crystalline beauty and hypnotic power.
Peter Quinn, International Record Review
Vereinzelte Klaviertöne, manchmal Zwei-, kaum Dreiklänge, unterbrochen von langgezogenen engintervalligen ein- oder zweistimmigen Gesangsbögen. Alexander Knaifel braucht nicht viel, um seine Musik zu schreiben. Sie baut sich in Orchester und Chor zu einer großen dynamischen Kurve auf, deren Schwingungen langsam verebben bis in letzte, leise Töne des Cellos hinein. Mit dem einsätzigen „Blazhenstva“ hat Knaifel die Seligpreisungen der Bergpredigt vertont. Ein Wegzeichen des Trostes.
Tilman Urbach, Fono Forum