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Rachmaninov : All-Night Vigil

Saturday, 21 March 2020, 19:00 - 21:00
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge. London SE1 9DA

*** Please note that this concert has a 7pm start ***

A specially devised performance pairing the mesmerising psalm settings of the Rachmaninov All Night Vigil with selected movements of Britten’s Cello Suites Nos 1 and 3 and their Russian folk like themes.  The cello soloist for our concert is the outstanding Joely Koos (right).    As well as being professor of cello and chamber music coach at Trinity College of Music, Joely leads an active freelance musical life dividing her time between orchestral, solo and chamber work.

Rachmaninov (1873-1943) wrote his All-Night Vigil in under two weeks during January and February of 1915 and it premiered in Moscow on 10th March, just days before Wimbledon Choral Society's very first public concert on the Monday 22nd in Wimbledon.

The work is often mis-named simply as Vespers.   In fact only the first six movements are associated with the Russian Orthodox canonical hour of Vespers.   The All Night Vigil was one of the composer's favourite works - notably so the fifth movement, Nunc Dimittis.  He asked for this particular item to be sung at his funeral but alas that was not to happen.   The movement is noted for its ending where the basses drop to the bottom B flat below the stave.   Be assured WCS does have at least one bass who can plumb those depths!

The three cello suites by Benjamin Britten were dedicated to the outstanding Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich left).   The first two suites premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1965 & 1968 and the third also premiered at the same venue, Snape Maltings, in 1974.  The Britten scholar, Philip Brett, considered Suite No 3 to be the "most passionate" of the three, drawing considerably on four Russian themes, including three arrangements of folksongs written by Tchaikovsky.

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