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Rachmaninov: All-Night Vigil Hybrid SACD - DSD

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, March 26, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

'Ondine brings us the release of Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil follows several earlier releases featuring the acclaimed Latvian Radio Choir under its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Sigvards K?ava. Inspired by the words, music and atmosphere of Russian Orthodox worship, Rachmaninov created with his Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (ODE 1151-5) and his All-Night Vigil two supreme examples of choral writing but also music of uplifting spiritual strength. As instruments are being proscribed by Church law, the All-Night Vigil is composed for unaccompanied voices but Rachmaninov created a work of such richness that could be described as 'choral orchestration'. Featuring the Latvian Radio Choir, who Gramophone praised as an outstanding body of singers.' -Gramophone


The All-Night Vigil is composed for unaccompanied voices, but Rachmaninoff created a work of such richness that it can be described as 'choral orchestration,' demanding a wide vocal range from the singers. The Latvian Radio Choir is regarded as one of the top professional chamber choirs in Europe. Their repertoire extends from the Renaissance to the present day, exploring the capabilities of the voice and seeking to push its limits. --WFMT, Lisa Flynn, April 2013

Latvians love to sing. They routinely gather by the for song festivals. No surprise then, that the small country has produced one of the world's finest vocal ensembles, the Latvian Radio Choir. Founded in 1940 and led today by Sigvards Klava, the choir sports a surprisingly large (for just two dozen singers) and lustrous tone, a highly polished vocal blend and breathtaking precision. It's all on display in All-Night Vigil, an hour-long, a cappella set of Russian Orthodox church music that is at once joyous and meditative, rapturous and wistful. The Latvians soar, shine and spin diaphanous fabrics of sound, as lovely as rays of light through stained glass, all the while instilling the words with genuine emotion. Listen to this gorgeous recording with the volume raised considerably. --Tom Huizenga, NPR Best Classical Albums of 2013

Product Details

  • Conductor: Klava
  • Composer: Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (March 26, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B009B4REYQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,435 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By William D. Larson on May 14, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Foolishly, perhaps, I would like to consider myself an "expert" on this piece of music, inasmuch as I have loved it ever since I first heard it on LP(Melodiya) a zillion years ago when that first recording first came out, and inasmuch as I own about a dozen different recordings of it. Of course I have my tastes and you have yours, which can always play a part in one's evaluations. At any rate, this new recording is now my certain favorite: I will endeavor here to be as objective as I can about it vis-a-vis other contenders.

The Latvian Radio Choir is a true chamber choir, consisting in this recording of twenty-five singers (sadly, names not given in the accompanying booklet). This makes it the smallest choir, I believe, to record this masterpiece. Based on this small size, the listener would expect a tight togetherness in the singing, as well as a responsiveness not available to larger ensembles, and that is in fact what one gets here. What the listener would not necessarily expect is their silky tone, over-all beauty, and space-filling power when needed. What I want in any performance of this work is beauty of tone and musical/spiritual expressiveness, and my-oh-my do we get that here! Someone (I now forget who) once said, "Every time I see a painting by Van Dyke, I want to pick up my brushes and start painting; every time I see a painting by Rembrandt, I want to put down my brushes and never touch them again. Mediocrity inspires, genius humbles." Those words well sum up my response to the conducting of Sigvards Klava on this disc. I have often fantasized about being a choral music conductor, believing I could do as well as, or better than, actual conductors I have experienced. (A vain but pleasant dream, I suppose.) Then along comes Mr. Klava.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Steven T. Singer on June 13, 2013
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
There are few things of which I'm certain, but here are two:

1. I rarely purchase music these days.
2. There are few new options for truly great choral works.

This album challenged and defied both of those statements.

I first heard samples of this work today on NPR during afternoon rush hour traffic. I pulled over so I could take it all in. Immediately after the review ended I rushed home and bought the album. Impulsive as it was, I have absolutely no regrets at all.

Despite this being a reputedly different piece to execute well it seems to have garned great reviews. Among those praising it's virtues: NPR recommended it (as mentioned previously), it was awarded Gramophone Magazine's Recording of the Month in February 2013. and the NY Times also gave it a glowing review. The list could go on and on.

From my perspective the execution is close to flawless, the melodies hauntingly beautiful, and the sound quality is premium. It is truly an excellent performance. If this isn't a 5 star worthy product ... what is?

Listen to the samples and/or read reviews. This is high quality stuff.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Teemacs on May 18, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Altogether a very nice record. I really must get an SACD player so that I can hear it in surround. The wonderful spacious recording seems to cry out for this sort of treatment. The choir sing wonderfully well, and some pieces such as The Great Doxology (Slavosloviye velikoye)get a wonderful luminous treatment.

Some pieces? Problem is, it is up against the greatest version of them all, the old Sveshnikov/RSFSR Academy Choir version of the 1960s. I've tried numerous versions, but none match the utter magnificence, the sonority of that old Melodiya recording. The greatest piece of all, the Nunc Dimittis (Nyne Otputschtschaeschi), where the basses sink to an astounding low B Flat, is, in this Latvian version, really quite flat in comparison, with none of the standing waves in the floor caused by Sveshnikov version. The gorgeous Ave Maria (Bogoroditze Dewo, raduisja) that follows it positively glows in the Sveshnikov version, but is rather limp in this version. Indeed, the Sveshnikov version has overall more impact, more drama. Perhaps I've loved the Sveshnikov version so long that I am no longer capable of impartial judgement.

Does this sound like damning with faint praise? I hope not. I would in no way discourage people from buying this recording, but I would encourage them also to obtain the old Sveshnikov recording - be prepared to kill for it, if necessary. As a public service, here it is:


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on March 7, 2014
Format: Audio CD
The title of this work is sometimes given as “Vespers”, which is not only a mistranslation of the original Russian “Vsénoshchnoye Bdéniye” but also factually incorrect. The “All-Night Vigil” is a ceremony of the Orthodox Church, generally performed on the eve of a major festival, which does not literally last all night. (This work takes about an hour to perform). It gets its name because combines texts from the Orthodox canonical hour of Vespers with those for Matins, thus symbolically linking morning and еvеnіng.

This setting was composed by Rachmaninoff in 1915 and was originally performed at a concert in aid of the Russian war effort. After the Revolution of 1917, however, the work could not be performed in Russia, partly because of Soviet anti-religious policies and partly because Rachmaninoff, as an anti-Communist émigré, was persona non grata with the regime. The first recording was made in 1965 by the State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR, but this was only for the export market and was never made available for sale in the Soviet Union itself. Only since the fall of Communism have ordinary Russians been able to appreciate the work, and appreciation has also steadily grown in the West.

It is in many ways very different from Western church music, whether Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran, not least in the fact that it is (as required by Orthodox canon law) scored only for unaccompanied voices without instruments. All of its fifteen sections are settings of Orthodox liturgical texts.
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