On of my favourite all-time pieces is Rachmaninoff’s Opus 37, Всенощное бдение, Vsenoshchnoe bdenie, or “All-Night Vigil”. It is useful to know that this is very often just called “Vespers”, but purists get annoyed by this.

If you can get a chance to hear this live, then jump at it.  It is all voice, all vocal or choral or a cappella. It is not Gregorian Chanting in ancient and cavernous monasteries; it was written in a  fortnight in 1915 to raise funds for the war effort, and despite being a big hit, it was banned along with all religious music by the second of the three Russian Revolutions. It is modern and fresh — but still religious.

If you like Samuel Barber, you will most likely enjoy All-Night Vigil.  If, like me, you enjoy all choral music, from Eric Whitacre to Handel’s “Messiah”, you will perhaps appreciate the importance and sheer beauty of the work.

The recording I have seems to have become unavailable; I cannot track it down.  It is by the Tambov Chamber Choir under the artistic direction of Professor Vladimir Kozlyakov — who conducted my recording from 2003. Rachmaninoff was from Tambov, and the choir was started in 1993 by lecturers and students past and present at Derzhavin (Tambov State) University. The last track (#15) is actually a piano piece played by P. Kushnir — Variations On A Theme Of Corelli opus 42. The other 14 tracks are in Westernised Russian, but it doesn’t really matter terribly much whether “Bogorodice Devo, raduisya” means “Hail, Virgin, Mother of God” or not, I do wonder what happened to track 15 (according to YouTube it is “Troparion – Hail, Theotokos”, which Amazon has as “Hymn to the Mother of God”)! It’s pretty difficult looking for stuff when the Conductor might be spelled V. Kozlyakov or W. Kozlyakoff (and variations), Rachmaninoff can be Rachmaninov, Sergei, Sergey, and The All-Night Vigil can be Vespers! Tough One.  Luckily the music — when you find it — is wonderful trance-chill stuff.

Whatever version you get, it is perfect for Christmas mood making!

M ER Y       C RS M A S


3 Responses to “ALL-NIGHT VIGIL”

  1. davedevine Says:

    01 – Приидите, поклонимся | Come, let us worship
    02 – Благослови, душе моя Господа | Bless the Lord, o my soul
    03 – Блажен муж | Blessed is the man
    04 – Свете Тихий | Gentle Light
    05 – Ныне отпущаеши | Now lettest thou Depart
    06 – Богородице Дево, радуйся | Theotokos Virgin, rejoice
    07 – Шестопсалмие | Six Psalms
    08 – Хвалите имя Господне | Praise the Name of the Lord (Ps. 134-135)
    09 – Благословен Еси, Господи | Blessed art Thou, O Lord
    10 – Воскресение Христово видевше | Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ
    11 -Величит душа моя Господа | My soul magnifies the Lord
    12 – Славословие великое | Greater Doxology (Znamenny Chant)
    13 – Днесь’ спасение (тропарь’) | Troparion – Today salvation is come
    14 – Взбранной воеводе | To Thee the Champion governor

    • Christian A Says:

      Just two quick notes: Section 13 and 14 of the 15-section “All-Night Vigil” are based on the same Troparion melody. On this album, they opted to only record 13 and skip 14 (listed variously as Voskres Iz Groba / Christ is Risen from the Grave / Troparia of the Resurrection / When Thou O Lord Hadst Arisen). So track 14 on the album is actually part 15 of the sheet music: “Vzbrannoy Voyevode”, sometimes called “Hymn to the Mother of God”, though a more literal translation is something like “Thee the Champion Governor”.

      Generally speaking, the sound quality is very good for a live university album, and the basses can growl along on the low Cs and Bbs with the best of them. On some sections (eg 2 and 11), Kozlyakov races through at nearly double the tempo of traditional recordings, which was jarring at first, but now I kind of like.

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