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5.0 out of 5 stars I was part of it
I was one of the 59 hand-picked voices that formed the 1989 Robert Shaw Festival Singers.
The emotional intensity of making this recording with Shaw was so overwhelming that I had to distance myself from this music for nearly a decade. Only within the last five years have I begun to listen to the recording again, stunned at its power, overwhelmed by the artistry...
Published on May 7 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninov Vespers
Dear Sir,Whilst this recording is a very good one I feel that there is not the quality of sound in the Bass section that is such a strong point with the Slavic Choirs. especially the "Svetislav Obretinov" choir of Bulgaria, I have a Phonograph Recording of the "Vespers" by this Choir, and it is without doubt one of the most magnificent sounds that I...
Published on June 11 2001 by Bryan M Scott


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5.0 out of 5 stars I was part of it, May 7 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
I was one of the 59 hand-picked voices that formed the 1989 Robert Shaw Festival Singers.
The emotional intensity of making this recording with Shaw was so overwhelming that I had to distance myself from this music for nearly a decade. Only within the last five years have I begun to listen to the recording again, stunned at its power, overwhelmed by the artistry Shaw brought to it, and convinced that the spirit of Sergei himself was present in that 12th-century cathedral in Gramat, France, on that hot, late July evening 15 years ago, when we recorded this masterpiece in a mere four hours. Something, some guiding presence (besides the all-too-intimidating Shaw himself) was in the room, and all of us felt it.
The recording has flaws. But not a lot of them. We learned the music in five days, rehearsed it in 95 degree temperatures with minimal ventilation (fans 'bothered Shaw's ears'), and got one day off (France's bicentennial Bastille Day) the entire month we were there. Shaw was relentless, demanding, moody, and distant. Did I resent it then? Yes. Do I look back and revere him and what he strove for now? Yes. Am I about as proud of this as anything I've ever been involved in? Yes again, a thousand times over. This recording is as fine as choral singing gets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninoff's Vespers, April 24 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
The sounds in this music are so beautiful and so profound that they will change the way you feel about the world around you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best, March 20 2004
By 
Thengling (La Grange, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
I probably would have rated Robert Shaw's technically fine presentation "five stars," had I not already heard the Philips recording, Evening Star - the Rachmnaninoff Vespers, an offering by Nikolai Korniev and the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir at St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Petersburg, Russia.
The latter, superb recording from Russia has depth, visceral rhythms (where appropriate), power, and elswhere, delicate etherial qualities, and a spectrum of changing vocal colors not seemingly possible from an unaccompanied choir. The basses possess the foundation that makes Russian choirs legendary. Most of these qualities are simply not there in the Robert Shaw version.
Robert Shaw's 'Vespers' is a worthy addition to your collection, but you owe it to yourself first to audition Evening Star.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full harmonies, Feb. 21 2004
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
Wonderfully voiced choir, well balenced, well recorded. This was my first Rachmaninov disc. This composition is both heart wrenching and up lifting in emotion. You can easily hear the Russian sacred music influences woven with romantic harmonies. Rich, even with a marginal sound system it brings a gigantic church into my apartment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lonely soul's prayer, Nov. 14 2003
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This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
What a vesper they are singing, in a quiet night, the whispers are like waves in the ocean, one after another, touching gently to the heart, cooling off any disturbence, yet, the lonelyness still remains.
You could still sense the tradition from Rachmaninoff's vespers. But Robert Shaw has made this CD stunning beautiful, the layers of the singing from the unaccompanied chorus granted the vespers rich and warmth. It is a CD for a lonely cold night, for a soul wanting to find God.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and a half, May 31 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
I had heard wonderful comments about this CD before I bought it, but after listening to it, I was simply amazed. I bought it on a choral trip, and shared it with several other students who were equally amazed. Being a Bass II myself with what I consider to be a good range (C#), this choir astounded me with the power, projection, and range of their basses. The power and beauty of the choir, especially in the high and low extremes, are tremendous. Buy this CD---you will NOT regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Russian Orthodox Church on a CD, April 2 2003
By 
Nancy Moran (Baltimore, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
This is not Gregorian chant -- it uses a full choir of men and women. This is not a Mass -- it is an All-Night vigil.
Rachmaninoff has strayed from his famous piano concertos to write a cappella choral music of ancient Russian heritage.
It has a tremendously Russian flavor with chord changes and use of soft and loud. This flavor is aided by the use of the Russian language.
Of note, the text of some of the hymns revolves around worship of the Virgin Mary. Emphasis is placed on resurrection with concluding thanks to the Mother of God.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritually moving, Dec 20 2002
By 
Ben States Olivier (Austin, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
Hearing this cd moved me beyond belief. I have givin it to numurous friends and own 2 extra copies for that reason. The clearity of the recording is oustanding. Recomended for a dark, candle lit room on a rainy day.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece by Robert Shaw Singers, Sept. 18 2002
By 
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
Recent choral recordings conducted by Robert Shaw is not frequent, and the fact that Shaw decided to add this particular choral pieces by Rachmaninoff to his discography is interesting to be noted. Rach's Vespers is by no means an average choral piece; it is technically-demanding - requiring both sopranos and basses to reach their highest and lowest limit - and yet it is a delicate piece, in which the Vespers (evening prayer) are ethereally raised.
And Robert Shaw Festival Singers managed to touch the listeners' heart through this serene, glorious piece. Listen to the opening rich and solid 'Amen' chorus which precedes several songs in the set, and you can immediately feel the presence of Vespers mood; a heart-warming experience which we sometimes need to nourish the soul.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Vespers Has Arrived!, Aug. 2 2002
By 
Blake R. Henson (De Pere, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
In the world of Choral Music, there are two types of people: those who are Robert Shaw fans and those who aren't. If you, like myself, are in the former you will find this recording ranks in one of the Maestro's ten best albums. If you are in the latter category I challenge you to find another recording of Rachmaninoff's gorgeous All-Night Vigil that even compares to the Shaw version.
The festival chorus, one of Shaw's auditioned ensembles comprised of teachers, singers, conductors, and students shines in this hour long mass. The Rachmaninoff is one of the hardest choral works to perform as it is scored for usualy eight part (although greater in some movements), a cappella chorus. A cappella music of this magnitude is rarely performed these days, especially with American choirs due to the inability to hold a key center without the aid of a piano. First soprano lines that require carefree sighing of high A's and B's while second bass line (written specifically for Russian basses) that sit as low as a B-flat make this one of the least accessable choral scores ever written. After listening to Robert Shaw's recording, however, you would think that any church choir could pick up and perform this monster.
This is truly a landmark in choral music and Robert Shaw fan or not, you will not find a better recording of this work.
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Vespers
Vespers by Sergei Rachmaninov (Audio CD - 1990)
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