Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil by Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale; Charles Bruffy, director

In 1915, Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff composed the extraordinary All-Night Vigil for unaccompanied choir. Based on the traditional Russian-Orthodox, Saturday-evening vigil that draws together Vespers, Matins, and First Hour services, the piece features 15 psalms and hymns through chant, solos, rumbling bass lines, and multilayered harmonies.
At 100 years old, the music sounds timeless, especially underCharles Bruffy’s impeccable direction of the combined Phoenix and Kansas City Chorales. The liner notes provide an excellent introduction to the Vigil’s composition and also offer a complete translation of the Russian text. But even without knowing Russian, listeners cannot help but soar along with the choirs’ singing of “Glory to God in the Highest” and “O Praise the Name of the Lord.” 

About the Author

Otto Selles teaches French at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and attends Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.