Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37 (All-Night Vigil) - SACD

This page lists all recordings of Vespers, Op. 37 (All-Night Vigil), by Sergey Vassilievich Rachmaninov (1873-1943) on SACD. Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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February 2013

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


In their first LSO Live solo release, the London Symphony Chorus deliver a passionate performance of Rachmaninov’s 'All-Night Vigil', under the baton of acclaimed LSO Choral Director, Simon Halsey. Formed in 1966 to complement the work of the LSO, 2016 sees the London Symphony Chorus celebrate its 50th Anniversary as one of the UK’s most well-established choirs. Made up of over 160 amateur singers from all walks of life, the Chorus has recorded widely for LSO Live, the partnership resulting in several award-winning releases - including three Grammy Awards, received for Berlioz' 'Les Troyens' and Verdi's ' Falstaff'.

Hauntingly beautiful, the 'All-Night Vigil' or 'Vespers' is a cornerstone of the choral repertoire, its 15 a cappella movements considered amongst the composer’s finest achievements. Composed in 1915, against a backdrop of political turmoil in Russia and the early throes of The First World War, the sense of spiritual transcendence in the work may be interpreted as the composer’s response to the chaos and suffering around him. While Rachmaninov was no conventional believer, the rituals and traditions of the Orthodox Church were an essential part of his cultural background, evident in his use of chants from the Russian Church as the basis for ten of the work’s fifteen sections. For the remaining five, Rachmaninov composed entirely new music, though these are so heavily influenced by tradition that it is near impossible to tell the difference.

Throughout the Vespers, Rachmaninov’s immense compositional skill is on display - exploring a variety of textures, timbres, rhythms and registers, all of which are beautifully handled by the Choir and Simon Halsey.

Sharing choral music with the community is a key mission for the London Symphony Chorus and in 2015 Halsey prepared LSO Discovery and Community Choirs for the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s children’s opera 'The Monster in the Maze'. Halsey and the LSC will continue this community work in 2016, with the world premiere of another children’s opera 'The Hogboon', conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and performed in memory of its composer, the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

“The London Symphony Chorus, under Simon Halsey, show not only evidence of great familiarity with the performing and recorded tradition of the work in terms of pacing and rhetoric, but also an injection of peculiarly British choral timbre, which brings a welcome and different perspective.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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LSO Live - LSO0781

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


Phoenix Chorale & Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy

The Grammy-Award-winning conductor Charles Bruffy brings together his two professional choirs, the Kansas City Chorale and Phoenix Chorale, for this recording of Serge Rachmaninoff’s All-night Vigil. The scheduled release date marks the 100th anniversary of the world premiere of the work, which was given by the Moscow Synodal Choir on 10 March 1915.

The recording follows live performances of the work by the combined ensembles in April and May 2014, respectively in Phoenix and Kansas City. The Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale are regarded as among the finest professional choral ensembles in the world. Their recordings have earned a combined total of ten Grammy-Award-nominations and four wins. Building on the success of previous collaborations, the performances marked the seventh time that the two choirs have performed together. Of their 2009 performance at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Vivien Schweitzer of The New York Times wrote that the choirs ‘performed with a buoyant pulse and energetic finesse’, and praised ‘the choirs’ refined sound and elegant phrasing’.

Serge Rachmaninoff’s All-night Vigil stands as the crowning achievement of the ‘Golden Age’ of Russian Orthodox sacred choral music. The texts are drawn from the Russian Orthodox liturgy and the music goes beyond the strict requirements of the liturgical ritual, making it better suited for concert presentations of sacred choral music than for worship services.

“No doubt about it, these are two very fine professional choirs, unique in an unparalleled lower-register smokiness and resonance. The basses can reach the famous bottom notes: the C at the end of 'Blessed is the Man' is a wonder…any claim to Russian Orthodox authenticity, though, is cancelled out with the cowled sound of the sopranos” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015

“The combined 56 voices are beautifully balanced balanced...Intonation is spot-on throughout this taxing work and there are no audible edits...In addition to coaxing an ultra-smooth blend to the choral sound Bruffy has also...rubbed off some of the crispness of articulation...[Scozzafava's] alto osolo sounds like the genuine article.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“there will be purists who will object on principle to a non-Russian choir in this work, but previous recordings have demonstrated beyond doubt that this combined chorus possesses the style to an admirable degree, and I very much hope that this first-rate recording will do more to bring this masterpiece to a wider listening public - it certainly deserves to.” International Record Review, May 2015

“It’s been a long time since I’ve heard choral singing of this quality. This is a very beautiful and inspired reading of Rachmaninov’s wonderful settings and I found it very rewarding indeed.” MusicWeb International, 27th March 2015

“Charles Bruffy and the Phoenix and Kansas City Chorales have long been outstanding interpreters of this repertory and their performance has a devotional intensity that is often overwhelming. The recording itself is on the reverberant side. But by the end, you know exactly why it one of Rachmaninov’s favourites among his own works, and why many consider it his greatest.” The Guardian, 13th March 2015 *****

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava

This new release of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil follows several acclaimed releases from the Latvian Radio Choir under its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Sigvards Kļava.

Rachmaninov’s Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (ODE11515) and the All-Night Vigil are two supreme examples of choral writing in the Russian Orthodox tradition, featuring music of uplifting spiritual strength.

The All-Night Vigil is composed for unaccompanied voices but Rachmaninov created a work of such richness that it can be described as “choral orchestration”, demanding a wide vocal range from the singers.

The Latvian Radio Choir is regarded as one of the top professional chamber choirs in Europe. Their repertoire extends from the Renaissance to the present day, but always focussing on exploring the capabilities of the voice and seeking to push its limits.

Sigvards Kļava, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992, is one of Latvia’s most prolific choral conductors. He has conducted many premières of new choral works by Latvian composers.

“Under the masterly direction of Sigvards Klava, the Latvians display the barrel-chested Slavonic tonal resources Rachmaninov would have expected — sepulchral basses, soft-grained but strong sopranos, tenors who soar without strain — but also a precision alien to Russian choirs” The Times, 17th November 2012 *****

“You would need to go far to hear a richer, more rounded alto section than this. They are supported by a wonderfully firm bass line...you want to single out each section for particular praise: the gloriously clear-toned and vital sopranos an the ardent, sweet-voiced tenor section.” International Record Review, December 2012

“Klava's interpretation doesn't give the sensation of dragging...He carefully draws out every dramatic nuance from this choral feast. His two dozen singers produce a well-nourished tutti and sound like a much larger group...There is a wonderfully kaleidoscopic (though carefully graded) palette of vocal colours throughout...The Latvians' unanimity of attack is well-nigh perfect...This is a sublimely beautiful yet rapturous recording.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2013

“the Rachmaninov of Latvia's outstanding professional choir presents a golden mean between the uniquely open-throated but not always pitch-perfect Glinka Choir of the hallowed St Petersburg tradition, and the more reserved tones of English choral contenders...this performance is a remarkable achievement” BBC Music Magazine, March 2013 ****

“Often hailed as the crowning musical achievement of Russian Orthodox Christianity, Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil has certainly become a firm favourite among choirs in both East and West. Based on various forms of chant that were in use in Russia at that time, it uses these as the building-blocks of a unique and powerfully Romantic harmonic language. The Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Kļava give a performance that is the equal of any by Russian choirs!” David Smith, Presto Classical

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Disc of the Month - February 2013

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Ondine - ODE12065

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Rachmaninov: Vespers

Rachmaninov: Vespers


Rachmaninov:

Vespers, Op. 37

The Theotokos


Netherlands Radio Choir, Kaspars Putniņš

All-Night Vigil has been recognised as a supreme achievement in the music of the Russian Orthodox Church. Together with the choral symphony The Bells, it is one of Rachmaninov’s favourite compositions.

As a coupling the Netherlands Radio Choir have chosen to record one of Rachmaninov's earliest works, composed in 1893 and unpublished in his lifetime. The Theotokos, Ever-Vigilant in Prayer is a hymn to the Virgin – ‘the one who gives birth to God’ – and clearly aims to exploit the skill of a first-class choir, with its varied textures, tempos and wide range of dynamics.

“[the choir] is clearly a highly flexible instrument...Rachmaninov places great demands on even the most skilled singers...challenges which the Dutch singers pass with audible ease...The brief solos are full of supplication, rich and varied in tone.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2014

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


Re-issued from the recording made a few years ago.

"a very serious competitor indeed." Gramophone

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


St Petersburg Chamber Choir, Nikolai Korniev

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Pentatone - PTC5186027

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