The Russian Orthodox Church had a huge influence on Rachmaninov’s musical language, but the Vigil is one of only two liturgical pieces he wrote, and he had stopped attending church by the time he composed it, in just two weeks in 1915. Perhaps the Church’s strict guidelines for liturgical music put him off—no instruments were allowed, and clear intelligibility of the text was required. As a result the Vigil is for a cappella choir, and much of the writing is homophonic. Bogoroditse Devo begins simply, with quiet awe. At the words “blessed art thou among women” the music becomes more expansive, adding a counter-melody (played here by muted trumpet and trombone), and reaching an heroic climax (“thou hast brought forth the Saviour”), before returning to the calm of the opening. The Vigil is often known as the Vespers, but in fact Bogoroditse Devo marks the end of the Vespers section. Matins follows, announced by Slava v vïshnikh Bogu, the Short Gloria—a text based on the words that the Angels sang to the shepherds. Again the movement starts very simply, repeating a straightforward melody; but it is notable for Rachmaninov’s characteristic use of bell-tolls, set to the word Slava (Glory). These become increasingly insistent, eventually taking over and reaching an epic ringing climax, before the movement ends with a hymn-like prayer.

Parts included:

  • Score
  • Trumpet in E-flat
  • Trumpet 1 in B-flat
  • Trumpet 2 in B-flat
  • Trombone 1
  • Trombone 2
  • Trombone 3 (Bass)
  • Tuba

Purchasing this product entitles you to download it three times. You will receive an email with a link to download your files upon completing payment.