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Rachmaninov : All-Night Vigil

Saturday, 21 March 2020, 19:30 - 22:00
Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge. London SE1 9DA

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.

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.   If fact only the first six movements are associated with the Russian Orthodox canonical hour of Vespers.   It is believed that the All Night Vigil was one of the composer's favourite works and that he asked for the fifth movement Nunc Dimittis to be sung at his funeral.   This movement is noted for its ending where the basses drop to a bottom B flat.   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.   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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