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The Elysian Singers of London

Venue: Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, SW1X 9BZ


Vespers (All-Night Vigil)
Three Psalm Preludes (Set One)


Sam Laughton

This concert marks the centenary of the composition of Rachmaninov’s choral masterpiece, the All-Night Vigil, which was written in February 1915. Rachmaninoff had a great love of the chants of the Russian Orthodox Church, many of which form the backbone of the pieces making up the Vigil. For the rest, his own newly-composed melodies are almost indistinguishable from real chants: the composer referred to them as ‘a conscious counterfeit of the ritual’.

Many of the texts for the All-Night Vigil are derived from the Psalms, and it was in the same year that Herbert Howells began to write his first set of Psalm Preludes for organ, a set of evocative miniature tone-poems. As with Rachmaninov, his post-romantic style is imbued with the stepwise plainchant that Howells grew to know and love from his early association with the recently built Westminster Cathedral. For this reason, Howells’ pieces fit snugly into the flow of Rachmaninov’ s work, while providing the listener with a delightful contrast to the unaccompanied choral sound.

NB. Please note venue.

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