From the book "Viktor Popov in the Choral Arts"
[Moscow: Kompozitor, 2009]
The collaboration of the choirs of Viktor Popov with Rudolf Barshai extended for more than thirty years. It began in the 1970s, when the boy choir of the Choral School performed the Stabat Mater of Pergolesi and parts of Bach's St John's Passion with Barshai's Chamber Orchestra. Barshai emigrated from the USSR in 1977 but initiated a renewed collaboration in the 1990s. The Moscow Choral School was taken on international tours performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Later, the Great Chorus of the Academy (boys and students) performed the Missa Solemnis of Beethoven together with a Swiss youth orchestra under Rudolf Barshai's direction followed by a performance of the Missa Solemnis and Bach's Mass in B minor in Italy with the Arturo Toscanini orchestra. With a German orchestra and the participation of a chorus of basses from the Academy a recording was made of Shostakovich's 13th Symphony. And finally, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory saw in May of 2002 the Russian premiere of the First Symphony (Requiem) by Alexandr Lokshin.
Popov stressed that he was always looking for opportunities for creative contacts with Barshai. „He is a great musician and professional interaction with him enriches the young artists, broadens their horizons. Rehearsals with him are often challenging, he is a very demanding, meticulous conductor, who sets the performance bar very high. But every time the result justifies all the efforts. At the close of a concert all the performers, including the chorus, feel not only happy with their mutual achievement, but also experience a great delight from their encounter with a distinguished musician."
Barshai, in turn, valued very highly the performance mastery of the choruses lead by Viktor Popov. "I have had the opportunity," he said, "of working with excellent ensembles. For example, in London we performed the Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the London Chorus, and also in the USA with American choruses. Lokshin's Requiem I was able to perform with the chorus of Radio France, a very good chorus, solid, strong. But the winner's laurels I nevertheless give to the chorus of the Academy under Viktor Popov. And, of course, to the Academy of Choral Arts, which he founded and directs. For Russian music it is a priceless treasure."