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Vespers, Opus 37, for Symphonic Winds

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Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff (arr. William V Johnson)


Subtitle: All-Night Vigil


General Info

Year: 1915/2011
Duration: c. 17:12
Difficulty: IV+
Publisher: William Johnson
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $40.00


Movements

No. 4 Svete Tikhyi (O Serene Light) - 3:00
No. 6 Bogoroditse Devo (Rejoice, O Virgin) - 3:05
No. 2 Blagoslovi, Dushe Moya (Bless the Lord, O My Soul) - 6:10
No. 3 Blazhen Muzh (Blessed Be the Man) - 6:12
No. 15 Vzbrannoy Voyevode (Thanksgiving to the Mother of God) - 1:45


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Eb Clarinet
Bb Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
Bassoon I-II
Soprano Saxophone
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpets (in Bb) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium (Bass Clef)
Tuba
String Bass
PIano
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Xylophone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Rachmaninoff was a composer, pianist, and conductor. He was widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Choral music makes up a relatively small part of Rachmaninoff’s creative output, yet the medium inspired what many music lovers treasure as his most profoundly affecting composition. Vespers, Op. 37 consists of 15 liturgical choral works for a capella choir and was composed in less than two weeks in January and February 1915. The first performance was given in Moscow on March 10th of that year. It was received warmly by critics and audiences alike, and was so successful that it was performed five more times within a month. “Even in my dreams I could not have imagined that I would write such a work,” Rachmaninoff told the singers at the first performance.

Vespers draws from the ancient musical tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, with its self-effacing focus on communal worship. The work shows Rachmaninoff anticipating an alternative to modernism’s abrupt break with tradition by reclaiming early-music elements outside the mainstream classical tradition -- a strategy that continues to be followed by a wide spectrum of contemporary composers.

For years, I have been fascinated and moved by the beauty of these choral pieces. Working with woodwinds and brasses and even percussion, I have come to realize that the wind band is much like a choir with its many colors and vocal-like emphasis on blend and balance. Indeed, Percy Grainger’s Horkstow Grange from "Lincolnshire Posy" for wind band sounds much like a Russian choir, and some of the wind band works of Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre and Frank Ticheli are transcriptions of beautifully lush choral works.

- Program note by William Johnson


Awards


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Audio Links


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) (William V. Johnson, conductor) – 9 June 2019
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Concert Band (David Thornton, conductor) – 20 April 2016
  • San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra (William V. Johnson, conductor)] - 6 December 2013
  • Cuesta Wind Ensemble (Jennifer Martin, conductor) - 15 May 2013
  • Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds (Stephen Piazza, conductor) - 23 December 2012
  • Contra Costa Wind Symphony (Dr. Duane Carroll, conductor) - 17 December 2012
  • Tennessee Tech University Wind Ensemble (Joseph Hermann, conductor), 19 October 2012
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Orchestra (Lauren Wasynczuk, conductor) - 2 June 2012
  • California State University, Fresno Wind Ensemble, (Gary Gilroy, conductor) 3 May 2012


Works for Winds


Resources

None discovered thus far.