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Customer Review

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only one to have, 30 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Rachmaninov Vespers (Audio CD)
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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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Aug 2010 10:04:15 BDT
M. R. Swire says:
Yes this the best! Waited over twenty years for this!

Posted on 8 Nov 2010 21:36:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2010 21:37:21 GMT
Can anyone tell me if the booklet for this CD includes English liner notes and translations of the sung texts? I've searched online but there doesn't seem to be much info available.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2010 23:06:04 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
Unfortunately not; English notes but no text or translations - you'll have to get them online - or give me your email and I'll send them, then delete the post with your address.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2010 00:55:58 GMT
Thanks Ralph. I'm not surprised at the lack of English texts. I've just bought Melodiya's set of the Shostakovich symphonies conducted by Kondrashin, and there are no texts or translations included in that set either.

I've been trying to decide between Sveshnikov and Hillier (Harmonia Mundi) for the Vespers. The samples of both sound very fine, but I know the Hillier recording does include full texts and translations (it also has the benefit of modern sound quality, which doesn't hurt), so I'll probably go for that, then get Sveshnikov if I decide I like the piece enough to want more than one version.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2010 20:49:19 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
I have heard only the clips of the Hillier; to me it sound beautiful but rather smoothed out and a little small-scale; you can hear individual voices obtruding rather than an imposing mass of sound. I think you'll want those authentic Russian basses and the tenor is certainly not as appealing. Trust me: that old Melodiya is special - and the texts are readily available: the first item that comes up on a Google search is this, with everything you need: http://www.signumrecords.com/catalogue/sigcd054/programme.htm

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2010 12:02:48 GMT
Thanks Ralph - OK, you've persuaded me, I've just bought it! Of the two, Sveshnikov's version is likely to become unavailable long before Hillier's. Best to grab it before the dreaded deletion axe falls.

One question: Amazon UK have this listed as a 2003 release. I thought it was the 2008 remastered version. I e-mailed Amazon about this and they've just replied saying no, it's from 2003 and not remastered. However, I searched by ASIN number on Amazon's French, German and American sites, and all three have the release date listed as 2008. I was wondering if you bought your copy from Amazon UK, and if so, what information is given on yours. The 2008 remaster apparently has the catalogue number MELCD1001365.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2010 18:56:36 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
I bought it from Amazon and it is indeed a 2008 Melodiya remastering. The number is correct.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Nov 2010 02:02:38 GMT
Thanks again Ralph. I'm looking forward to hearing this.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Apr 2012 00:57:54 BDT
I have just sung two pieces from the All-Night Vigil at my local choir and now looking to buy the Sveshnikov recording. The German Amazon site sells a 1988 CD version of this here: http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B000026CWL/
Although I am not too bothered about having a remastered version, I find it odd that the production year on that release is given as (P) 1973 when I believe the original recording was made in 1965. Are you aware of there having been made more than one recordings, or do you think it is in fact the same?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Apr 2012 08:06:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Apr 2012 08:06:46 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Definitely the same. But you'd be paying far too much for it; better to order from a UK seller - not Amazon, at present but look elsewhere - and pay the postage.
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Location: Bishop's Stortford, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 49