Saturday, July 15, 2006

All Night Vigil

There was a story on NPR earlier this week about a new recording of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil" by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Here's an excerpt of the recording [streaming mp3].

The NPR piece had other details about Rachmaninoff's composition. Not much of a church-goer, he wrote it in response to the Russian WWI war effort. He considered it one of his best works, wanted it to be played at his own funeral and wanted to be buried in Moscow. But then the 1917 revolution happened and that was not to be. He ended up dying in Beverly Hills and buried in NY.

I hadn't heard this piece of music before and I was blown away by it. Then again I'm a sucker for the genre (liturgical choral music ?) --- including this, this and even this. It's amazing what can be done with an a cappella choir.

Another reason I like it is that I hadn't heard much music from the Russian Orthodox Church before i.e. on "this side" of the schism. It's a mystery to me how the music from one branch of the church gets to be breath-taking, while the music from another branch, not many nodes away, is... not so much.[At this point I was going to link to an mp3 that reflects my memory of the not-so-harmonious singing of the orthodox churches I've attended. But I haven't really been able to find one. Instead I found this recording of the Divine Liturgy in Syriac/Arabic. It is not exactly pitch-perfect and I don't understand a word, but it's really beautiful in it's own way. What it reminds me of, apart from the music of Indian orthodox churches of course, is the a cappella choral music from the movie "In the Bedroom". The music from the movie is listed as "Bulgarian Traditional" and performed by the Newark Balkan Chorus. If I remember correctly (I can't find an audio link), that singing was also slightly anti-harmony and really haunting.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Ashvin! Who would guess your interest in liturgical music? If you like the Faure, you might also like the Durufle Requiem, Op. 9. There's a wonderful recording by King's College Choir titled, "Ikos - Choral Music by Gorecki, Tavener, Part - Interleaved by Plainchant." 20th cent. eastern/mystical works with some good

7/25/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger ashvin said...

Thanks for the recommendations Anonymous. They're all unfamiliar to me. I'll look them up.

7/26/2006 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should not be "Anon." My name is Peter, I'm at Stony Brook University... I'd be happy to make copies of the recordings for you...

There is a second recording from King's College Choir that must no longer be available (I couldn't find it on Amazon) entitled "Credo," which has 4 Rachmaninov pieces, 2 Stravinsky and 2 Penderecki pieces - all are simply gorgeous! Interspersed are gregorian chants.

I very much liked your photo essay on Vellore... hadn't been there, but having seen the spot where Tippu Sultan was felled, and been to his tomb last month, I was impressed by the fact that 1857 wasn't the first rising against the British.

If you care to, I can be reached at: psaal AT



7/29/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger ashvin said...

Thanks Peter --- For the compliments and the recommendation.

7/30/2006 02:20:00 PM  

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