Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Vespers Op. 37.
Olga Berusene, soprano, Yuri
Korinnyk, tenor, Mykhaylo Tyshchencko, tenor
National Academic Choir of Ukraine/Yevhen Savchuk.
Regis RRC1043 [DDD]
Around £6 from retailers
Come, let us worship 1.46
Bless the Lord, O my soul 4.52
Blessed be the Man 5.40
O serene light 3.29
Now let Thy Servant depart 3.59
Rejoice, O Virgin 2.26
Glory to God in the Highest 2.50
Praise the Name of the Lord 2.33
Blessed art Thou, O Lord 6.02
Having seen the Resurrection of the Lord 3.16
My soul magnifies the Lord 9.45
Glory to God in the Highest 7.47
Troparia of the Day of Salvation 1.58
Christ is risen from the grave 3.31
Thanks be given to the Mother of God 1.48
Recorded in the wonderfully resonant acoustic of Kiev Cathedral in December
2000, this performance of Rachmaninov's Vespers (All-Night Vigil),
Op. 37 speaks with a beautifully and specifically Russian intensity. That
it retails at budget price is really quite astonishing.
In his Vespers, Rachmaninov draws on chant from the Russian tradition
to provide an intense and moving experience. The work was written in 1915,
and was an immediate success.
The National Academic Choir of Ukraine clearly lives and breathes this music,
the truly authentic (sub-contra) basses plumbing the lower regions to give
enormous depth to the choral sound where necessary. Listen to the very end
of Bless the Lord, O my soul, or to the end of Now let thy Servant
depart for perfect examples of this. There is a serenity to the whole
performance which draws the listener in: the 'Alleluias' of Blessed be
the man are filled with a mix of awe and joy, whilst the opening of the
fourth section, O serene joy, is filled with contained ecstasy.
Of the soloists, tenor Yuri Korinnyk is somewhat nasal and forced in Now
let thy Servant depart. However the hypnotic and totally committed singing
of the Ukrainian choir more than compensates for any shortcomings.
The emotional (and dynamic) range of this choir makes for an uplifting
experience. Their clarity of diction, unanimity of attack and the careful
balance elicited by the conductor combine to make the slow-moving changes
of harmony mesmeric. The recording captures the cathedral acoustics without
being over-resonant, to the credit of the engineers.
The Hyperion Twentieth Anniversary version of the Vespers (on CDA20460) is
a fine account, but is nevertheless superseded at a lower price range by
the present issue. Recommended.