Thursday, July 13, 2006

The all night vigil

While driving to the airport to pick up my friend Jean, I heard parts of a new recording of Rachmaninov's "The All Night Vigil", otherwise known as the vespers, by the Hilliard Ensemble on NPR. Liturgically the music is intended to extend over a much longer period than just a vespers service, thus the new, more authentically Russian title.

Rachmaninov wrote this music in 1916, a time of catastrophe and the imminent collapse of his country. If you do not know this piece, make a point of changing that. This recording sounded good. There's also a Russian one with Olga Borodina, and a recording by Robert Shaw.

For many this is Rachmaninov's greatest achievement and certainly his most deeply spiritual.

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