Rachmaninov was deeply disturbed when war broke out in 1914. Depressed by the wave of aggressive nationalism that was sweeping through Russia, he retreated into memories of happier times and the Russian Orthodox church music that floated through his childhood like candle smoke. The musical result was Rachmaninov’s Vespers - a grand and intensely moving choral hymn to creation in which the composer combined the spiritual and the virtuosic to spectacular effect.
This music for unaccompanied choir demands a huge range of textures and registers as its voices coalesce and subdivide to breathtaking effect, weaving though traditional Orthodox Chant and the composer’s original melodies. Here is a rare chance to hear this deeply spiritual work in Edward Gardner’s hands at Bergen’s beautiful Cathedral, as the voices of our own exceptional choir joins those of Voces Timisienses from Romania.