Patterico's Pontifications


Buy Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” Now

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 5:59 am

Over the weekend, on a whim, I picked up a copy of Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers.” It’s an a capella piece. The version I got was performed by Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.

Highly recommended.

6 Responses to “Buy Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” Now”

  1. Wow, never thought I’d see this in a blog. This particular work is my single favorite recording and has been for over ten years.

    And yes, Vespers is easily one of the most moving pieces of music ever written. What can be said about Rachmaninov that hasn’t already been said?

    This particular recording — in addition to having Telarc’s high standards — features a tenor so plaintive he’ll move you occasionally to tears.

    Great post!

    PS: In deeply spiritual contemporary music try Liquid Mind’s recordings, especially the later releases…

    6Gun (a12dd8)

  2. I love the Vespers. My church choir sang “Bogoroditse Devo” for a Christmas liturgy, and I was hooked. I have the King’s College/Cleobury recording, but I’ve been thinking of picking up Shaw’s version, just to have an excuse to listen to it more.

    Juliet (2e4f52)

  3. It’s a capella because the Orthodox do not use intstruments in church. It’s also not written by Rachmaninoff, but only set by him. The “tones” (roughly equivalent to Gregorian modes, though polyphonic in Russian Orthodoxy) are set by the liturgy.

    Tchaikovsky has a setting of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom you should listen to.

    rightwingprof (663991)

  4. having sung in the 1st (vox turnabout) recording of the vespers done in english in the mid 70’s, i love this music and have kept up on it. while the shaw recording is technically outstanding, it lacks authenticity. (yes, i am fluent in russian). the BEST recording is by the directory “Puzakov”, and is available through “” as item A075. by the way, if you like this piece, you will LOVE the gretchaninoff passion week service. the best recording of that is item A001 in the musicarussica catalog.

    if you’d like any more input on this kind of stuff, let me know. i’ve directed several orthodox choirs in the la area over the past 30+ years and have a pretty good idea of the available repertoire.

    vlad w (0b0f23)

  5. Admirers of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers may also want to explore the other great monument of 20th-century Russian writing for chorus: Alfred Schnittke’s Choir Concerto, based on the writings of a 10th-century Armenian mystic.

    As with all recordings of Russian-texted music, I’d generally recommend Russian performers. In this case: Valery Polyansky’s recording with the Russian State Symphonic Capella. Even non-Russian speakers can usually tell the difference in the quality of the vowels between Russian and non-Russian singers.

    m.croche (85f703)

  6. […] A while back I wrote that I had just gotten a recording of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, which is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard. Tonight I’m off to see it performed live at Disney Hall. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (421107)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2074 secs.