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Sergei Rachmaninoff: Vespers (Mass for Unaccompanied Chorus)
Sergey Rachmaninoff, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, Karl Dent
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Vespers (Mass for Unaccompanied Chorus)
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

If those Gregorian chant discs seem a little, well, limited lately, perhaps it's time to move on to something equally spiritual but a bit more harmonically interesting. This disc, well-performed by the Robert Shaw Festival...  more »

      
   
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If those Gregorian chant discs seem a little, well, limited lately, perhaps it's time to move on to something equally spiritual but a bit more harmonically interesting. This disc, well-performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, and conducted by the legendary choral leader, features a ravishing score by Rachmaninoff and is sung a capella, as is all Orthodox church music. (For a heartrendingly beautiful number, listen to the second cut, "Blagoslovi, Dushe Moya," or "Bless the Lord, O My Soul.") Along with well-tuned choral singing, there is a fine solo contribution by tenor Karl Dent. --Sarah Bryan Miller

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CD Reviews

I was part of it
05/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was one of the 59 hand-picked voices that formed the 1989 Robert Shaw Festival Singers.The emotional intensity of making this recording with Shaw was so overwhelming that I had to distance myself from this music for nearly a decade. Only within the last five years have I begun to listen to the recording again, stunned at its power, overwhelmed by the artistry Shaw brought to it, and convinced that the spirit of Sergei himself was present in that 12th-century cathedral in Gramat, France, on that hot, late July evening 15 years ago, when we recorded this masterpiece in a mere four hours. Something, some guiding presence (besides the all-too-intimidating Shaw himself) was in the room, and all of us felt it.The recording has flaws. But not a lot of them. We learned the music in five days, rehearsed it in 95 degree temperatures with minimal ventilation (fans 'bothered Shaw's ears'), and got one day off (France's bicentennial Bastille Day) the entire month we were there. Shaw was relentless, demanding, moody, and distant. Did I resent it then? Yes. Do I look back and revere him and what he strove for now? Yes. Am I about as proud of this as anything I've ever been involved in? Yes again, a thousand times over. This recording is as fine as choral singing gets."
Seldom heard Rachmaninoff
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 09/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"So different from the marvelous romantic piano concertos and etudes we're familiar with, this Rachmaninoff religious mass for unaccompanied chorus is exquisitely beautiful, and considered by many as the greatest of Russian Orthodox church music.
Hushed and peaceful, these chants don't stray far from the traditional melodies and harmonies, but raise them to heavenly heights.The performance is magnificent. Robert Shaw masterfully conducts these wonderful voices, with tenor Karl Dent superb as the soloist. Recorded in Church of St. Pierre, Gramat, France, in 1989, the sound is excellent, and the libretto is in transliterated Russian and English. Total time: 65:53.
These are luminous songs of praise and joy, and will help filter out the negativity of the world, and bring us closer to the Source of All Creation."
This is the consumate spiritual "open window" to the soul.
Robert L. Alford (ralford@comwerx.n | Houston, Texas | 11/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Robert Shaw and his Festival Singers have given us, in his arrangement of Sergei Rachmaninov's, "Vespers", quite possibly one of the most beautiful choral presentations recorded to date, (professorial critiques notwithstanding). Having listened to it countless times over a period of years, it still elicits awe, reverence, peace, spirituality, lumps in the throat and tears in the eyes. It was just as fresh this morning as it was two years ago. Because of the vocal range, the better the sound/speaker system the better the presentation. The depth of quality bass voices is just short of astounding, rivaling some of the best bass vocal presentations by well known Russian male choral groups. The tenor soloist is stellar, and Shaw's interpretation is, in my opinion, exquisite. If you have not heard this beautiful and moving work, you've missed a lot!"