Saturday, February 9, 2008

Rachmaninov's Vespers

One of the most beautiful sacred compositions of the twentieth century is undoubtedly Rachmaninov's Vespers (All Night Vigil). Written in 1915 along the Russian Orthodox tradition, this musical operation was first performed on March of that same year to benefit the Russian war effort. As the Soviet Union emerged from its Russian antecedent, the work was banned by communist authorities.

Below is the Nunc Dimittis excerpt from Rachmaninov's Vespers. Yes, there are better performances than the one featured in the video below. If you would like to listen to the Vespers in its entirety, I recommend the performance by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.


Rita said...

Wonderful music!

Then again I think anything religious with a basso profondo already has a head start.

ps: Do you know of any good recordings of Russian Orthodox church music from all male choirs?

Tom in Vegas said...

Hi Rita!

There are two CD's tha come to mind when I think of Russian Orthodox music. The first one is called Ancient Echoes and the second Russian Chant. Although I consider them bith good, I prefer Ancient Echoes for its sweeping melodies and beautiful choral arrangements. The links I've provided will take directly to so you can see for your self. Also, Sacred Treasures (which have multiple CD's released) might also contain a few pieces that are to your liking.



Rita said...

Thanks Tom,

On first listen I think I'd go for the Russian Chant CD. Ancient Echoes may suffer from "production values". I'm never too fond of any classical music that sounds like someone has had fun at the mixing desk with it after recording. The Russian Chant is much more edgy, less sleek and to my ears more passionate.

I'll probably be purchasing this as a little post Lent, Easter treat from me to me.