… tonight we are privileged to undertake Rachmaninov's "All-Night Vigil." Those of you who have baby sitters who expect you home before dawn may wish to step outside for a few moments to make a phone call. (Lest you be frightened by the title, be apprised that the 15 musical numbers take but 65 minutes in the singing.)
Though written during the early years of World War I (1915), with the restrictions which Rachmaninov imposed upon himself to insure their suitability for liturgical performance, their musical idiom clearly "looks backward" –to the 500-year-old orthodox Znamenny chant as clothed in the loving 19th century language of "the last great representative of Russian Romanticism."
… Ranging from unison voices to eight and twelve parts, and moving from simple chant through variation to improvisation, the Vespers sometimes can be a complex work to put together, but it speaks so directly and simply to the heart, that one of the recurrent difficulties in rehearsal is that we become so emotionally touched–that it is next to impossible to continue singing.
Do not be ashamed if at times your eyes fill with tears (it's good for you)
And it almost certainly is best if we withhold applause until the Vespers are complete. We will not be insulted if even then you do not applaud.
-- Robert Shaw, from "Opening Remarks at Spivey Hall," May 14-15, 1993 The Robert Shaw Reader
All-Night Vigil (link)
Friday, December 11
Posted by rb at 12/11/2009