Launch of new CD of Rachmaninov ‘All-night vigil’

The Vasari Singers’ and my association with Rachmaninov’s All-night vigil stretches back nearly forty years, pretty much to the earliest days of the choir, when we would often include in our mixed-bag programmes the evergreen ‘Bogoroditse D’evo’. It was to become a firm favourite, to such an extent that we included it in our repertoire for our first (failed!) attempt to win the Sainsbury’s ‘Choir of the Year’ competition in 1986. (Happily we learned from that 1986 experience and went on to win the competition at the next attempt in 1988.) Loving that particular piece as we did naturally led us to explore the whole work and it was not long before we added the whole of the All-night vigil to our repertoire.

We have been fortunate enough to sing this glorious work in some magnificent venues. St John’s Smith Square in London hosted our first full performance, later followed by a concert on the Quire steps of Canterbury Cathedral (we prefaced this by singing the ‘Magnificat’ (‘Velichit dusha moya Gospoda’) and ‘Nunc Dimittis’ (‘Nin’e otpushchayeshi’) in the cathedral Evensong). Most recently (April 2014), we performed the All-night vigil in the magical Chapter House of Lincoln Cathedral.

It is a work that one returns to with excitement, love and anticipation, in the certain knowledge of discovering yet more hidden treasures amongst its pages. Over the years, our interpretation of the work has changed and deepened, so it seemed timely and entirely appropriate that we should mark my 60th birthday in part by recording this work which is so close to our hearts and so much part of the choir’s history. We are delighted therefore to present this recording now, the second on our VasariMedia label, which, like a good wine, has been years in the maturing. We hope you fully savour the results.

Jeremy Backhouse

© Jeremy Backhouse