This is a wonderful recording of a masterpiece, probably the greatest work of Rachmaninov and one of the outstanding musical works of the twentieth century. Before this recording appeared, there was a choice. On one side were linguistically idiomatic performances, generally bass-heavy, from Russian or Bulgarian choirs, who could cope with the language and provide the deep bass tone that was essential, but sometimes struggled in other registers. On the other side were Western choirs who struggled with the language and failed miserably to provide the weight of bass that the music demanded. The Soviet-bloc recording quality tended to be dire, the Western quality much better, but mainly with the result of exposing the inadequacies of the choirs: poor diction, or, more often, poor accent, combined with a fatal lack of weight in the bass register.
Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers definitively proved that this trade-off between a good recording, on the one hand, and a plausibly "Russian" performance, on the other, was not necessary. This has it all. Hyperion's recording quality is legendary and rightly so. The singing is not only musically excellent, but completely convincing in this repertoire, with a bass element that is magnificent, without being overwhelming. Even the Slavonic language sounds convincing.
This is an excellent performance and recording of the Vespers, which is invincibly superior to anything that preceded it. My own view is that it has itself now been surpassed, if only marginally, by the recording on Signum Classics, by the choir "Tenebrae" and Nigel Short. It has to be a subjective choice, though. I can't imagine being disappointed with either this Hyperion recording, or the rival Signum one. Between them, they should undoubtedly corner the market, because no other recording comes close to them.