Rachmaninov’s Vespers

City of Bristol Choir
David Ogden conductor
Olena Shvetsova piano
Richard Johnson piano

Rachmaninov All-Night Vigil (Vespers)
Rachmaninov La Nuit and Pâques from ‘Fantaisie for Two Pianos’
César Cui Notturno from ‘Trois Morceaux’

“Even in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined that I would write such a work.” So wrote Sergei Rachmaninov about his deeply moving All-Night Vigil , known as the Vespers, one of the choral masterpieces of the twentieth century which was premiered a hundred years ago.

The 100-strong City of Bristol Choir marks the anniversary with a performance of this ‘Symphony for Voices’ in the warm, clear acoustic of St George’s Bristol.

Scored for unaccompanied choir throughout, its deep textures, sumptuous harmonies and simple and plaintive melodies make it unmistakably Russian. Composed in the middle of the First World War, the piece was not only a religious work of art but also a powerful affirmation of nationalism. Rachmaninov took ancient melodies passed from one generation to the next for over a thousand years and developed and embellished them to create a work full of atmosphere, sublime beauty, vibrancy and intense emotion.

The performance of the work will be interspersed with evocative pieces for two pianos by Rachmaninov and Cui, played by two of Bristol’s finest pianists. These are musical pictures depicting the mystery of the night and the joy of Easter which subtly echo the mood and character of the Vespers.

Tickets £20 (£18 concessions), £15 (£13 concessions), £10 (£8 concessions). Students in full time education and under 18s £5 from St George’s box office.