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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
Vespers, Op. 37
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 30 January 2010
I hung on for years to my LP of this wonderful disc in the hope and belief that one day Melodiya would reissue it and I was thrilled when it finally appeared in this handsome new issue. The sound is excellent for 1965 and authenticity infuses every note. I have tried many, many recordings since I first heard this one, and none approaches it - least of all the worthy efforts by British choirs, so shamelessly hyped by my compatriot critics, nor those by Finns or Swedes. The basses in those choirs invariably bring Dr Johnson's dog to mind with regard to that famous low B-flat, more than two octaves below middle C, at the end of the Kiev chant. No choir has ever had such basses nor ever been recorded in such an atmospheric acoustic as here in the State Academic Russian Choir, under Sveshnikov. Nor has any other conductor ever judged the tempi so aptly, nor understood the need to steer a middle course between lugubrious, enervated solemnity and undue haste. Nor have the soloists been matched for their sincerity and beauty of utterance; a fruity, wobbly mezzo such as we hear in Georgi Robev's Bulgarian recording for Vanguard is a disaster - although his tenor is rather good. Far preferable are Klara Korkan's simplicity and Konstantin Ognevoi's plangent, grainy tenor, so Russian in timbre.

If you need to economise, there is a good, rather too brisk but still very Russian-sounding performance of the Vespers by the Ukrainian "Dumka" Choir as part of a super-bargain 3 disc set by Brilliant which also offers the Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, but my advice is to acquire this one at all costs. It is redolent of candle smoke, bejewelled golden icons and cavernous, chilly cathedrals - a desert island disc.
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on 9 November 2011
I am a little reticent about offering a review of this CD and perhaps set my opinion alongside that of people who are more genuinely expert. Although a lifelong lover of classical music choral music has been a neglected area for me. As a teenager a Ukrainian friend used to play me scratchy old russian vinyl records of soviet georgian choirs that were deep and moving. I bought this CD because I wanted to revisit that experience again, and sure enough I found something that was sombre, resonant and moving. The ambience is just incredible, the 1960's recording quality does not detract but adds to the sense of moment and the male voices make a welsh miners choir sound like castratae! There are some higher female voices but personally, I would have preferred to have just the low voices - too late to suggest this to rachmaninov now!.
I'm really pleased to have this CD but it is about as heavy with soviet gravitas as it is possible to be, hardly upbeat!
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on 6 February 2011
This recording of Rachmaninov's Vespers can be only described as bone chilling, the depth of passion when sung in the original Russian, by a Russian Chorus really makes one cry. The Choral Art's Society of Washington is technically perfect, but lacks the soul and expression in this recording. It has to be the only one available worth buying.
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on 4 March 2016
A great cd. Quite magnificent, recorded in the mid sixties, I could not believe my ears or hi fi, commended without reservation ii
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on 16 January 2014
I had an original LP recording, I have listened to other recordings but they have failed to match this performance.
The "Ukrainian" bass line is superb, although the CD version is inferior to the LP version ( perhaps my sound system could be better?)
Nevertheless, I am still grateful to have found this wonderful, rich tapestry of sound once more.

I still have the English translation, along- side the Russian text , from the LP version. It would be a welcome addition to the CD.
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on 17 February 2014
it has the wonderful atmosphere and soul that I had anticipated .. because of a previous review.. tear to the eyes.. it's like you are in a cathedral..
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on 25 June 2015
Wonderful, resonant sound.
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on 4 February 2016
I heard this piece for the first time the other day on a TV programme about Rachmaninov. I was much impressed so bought this CD. It is a very good performance, with a Russian choir and orchestra. Full marks.
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on 29 November 2017
Probably the best recording of Vespers ever.
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on 22 October 2015
Heavenly, transcendental music on the old Melodiya label. Wonderful voices. Can't say more...
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