Rachmaninov’s monumental Vespers, based on ancient Russian Orthodox melodies, ranks among the most beautiful and most impressive a-capella choral works ever composed. This masterpiece did not so much find its way to the Russian Orthodox liturgy, but it did so to the concert halls. It is a much-loved work in particular for its dramatic composition, its symphonic scope and its great virtuosity.
In fact, the title of Vespers (evening prayers) is incorrect. Rachmaninov called his work Vsénoshchnoye bdéniye, or ‘All-night Vigil’, whereas only the first six of its fifteen movements are part of the Russian Orthodox canonical hour of Vespers. The movements 7 up to 14 inclusive are Matins (night prayers), movement 15 being a Prime (morning prayer). In concert form, not a night will pass, even if this masterwork by Rachmaninov almost succeeds in stopping time.
Daniel Reuss conductor
Sergej Rachmaninov Vespers