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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Gloriae Dei Cantores

There are Russians (and Ukrainians) involved in this recording of Rachmaninoff's great sacred work, the All-Night Vigil, Op. 37, but the bulk of the singers are American. What you miss in this recording is the distinctive sound of a Russian choir, with its rumbling basses and luxurious low female singers. What you get in exchange is a great deal. You pay your money, and you take your choice. Begin with the booklet, which lays out not only the history of the work, but the aims of the present interpretation, and the links between the two, in convincing detail. Among the goals of this particular recording is to embody the committed Christianity that the conductor and performers find in the work; your attitude toward this will naturally depend on your own background, but this is a sensitive, even impassioned performance by any standard. The performers are aided by the tempo choices of the conductor, Peter Jermihov. Tempo in this work is a matter of debate, for the composer declined to include metronome markings. The booklet presents an interesting theory as to why this was so, and Jermihov builds persuasive musical arguments for it, staying on the faster side and avoiding ponderous depths in favor of a swelling forward impulse, as in the "Bogoroditse Devo" (as good a place as any to start sampling). Jermihov deserves extra credit for getting a consistent sound out of the members of four very different choirs: Gloriæ Dei Cantores, the St. Romanos Cappella, the Patriarch Tikhon Choir, and the Washington Master Chorale. The Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts, the home base of Gloriæ Dei Cantores, is a sympathetic space for the work, and engineer Keith O. Johnson wisely backs off from them a bit, allowing the dimensions of the music to emerge. Not necessarily a definitive recording of the All-Night Vigil, but one that certainly demands to be reckoned with. © TiVo