Posts Tagged ‘Opus 37’



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