In a timely celebration on the 100th anniversary of its premiere, the All-night Vigil by Sergei Rachmaninoff finds new life in a listening party presented by the Phoenix Chorale on Tuesday night, March 10 at monOrchid.
Hosted by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, curator of Minnesota Public Radio’s Choral Stream, the “Rach All Night” listening party salutes the Vigil‘s first performance, given by the Moscow Synodal Choir on March 10, 1915. The Phoenix Chorale and the Kansas City Chorale — both Grammy Award-winning professional ensembles led by conductor Charles Bruffy — recorded the Vigil for an album released today on the Chandos label and previewed on American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Russian composer Rachmaninoff wrote his opus 37 Vsenoshchnoye bdeniye (All-night Vigil, also known as Vespers) for unaccompanied chorus in January and February 1915, when he was 41 years old. He had recently completed a tour of southern Russia with Serge Koussevitsky in support of the war effort, and soon realized that he and his family needed to escape Russia’s internal turmoil. By the end of 1917 he accepted an invitation to play in Stockholm and left his homeland for the last time. Rachmaninoff died in Beverly Hills in 1943.
Considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of Russian Orthodox church music, the Vigil uses verses in Church Slavonic — 15 psalms and hymns chosen by the composer from the weekly Resurrectional Vigil service — set to medieval chant melodies reworked by Rachmaninoff and supplemented with his own tunes. The structure of the Vigil combines the services of vespers, matins and First Hour from the 14th century.
Find the Phoenix-Kansas City recording of this transcendent, meditative work on iTunes, as well as the track “Lord, Now Lettest Thou Thy Servant Depart in Peace” as an Instant Gratification download.