PaTRAM™ Sings Rachmaninoff. And I Listen “on my knees”


PaTRAM’s new release is BIG IN POLAND! We are wKULTURAlnySPOSOB’s Album of the Week!

wKULTURAlnySPOSOB – Robert Majewski writes….”This is the second album of the PaTRAM Men’s Choir for the Chandos publishing house. Previously, they released brilliantly sung compositions by Pawel Czesnakov, and now a jaw-dropping interpretation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil .

Rachmaninov’s work, being one of the most important compositions in choral literature, has been subject to many great performances and recordings. Still, I’ve never heard an album that compares to this one. Everything here is incomparable. Firstly, in the original it is a composition for a mixed SATB choir, here it is sung only by male voices; secondly, the individual parts are arranged lower than the originals. This is a necessity for a men’s choir that would not sing on the scale of a mixed ensemble.

The choir’s composition is impressive: 4 countertenors, 13 tenors, 11 baritones, 12 basses and 8 octavists (lower basses, also known as profondo basses). With such a composition, it is not surprising that the choir’s sound is truly impressive.

In the booklet accompanying the album, PaTRAM conductor Ekatrina Antonienko explains that when choosing the arrangements of individual movements by Alexander Grechaninov, Dimitry Lazarev and Benedict Sheehan, she tried to stay as close as possible to Rachmaninoff’s version.

The album starts with the proverbial “earthquake”, and then the tension increases. The deacon’s incantation (Arise! Master, bless) is sung by octavist Alexei Lukyanov. My God, he has a voice! Powerful, unimaginably deep and fully controlled. The subsequent entry of the choir is as absorbing as a drowned man. It’s impossible to stop listening.

We are accustomed to the alto singing the solo in the second movement (Bless the Lord, my soul). That’s what a baritone is. Yevgeny Kakhurowski sings masterfully. Ekaterina Antonenko extracted the necessary space from the choral part of this part, as well as the homogeneous sound and the ability of the choir to sustain incredibly long rhythmic values.

In the famous fifth movement (Lord, let your servant now), the tenor, Igor Morozov, who sings the solo part brilliantly, comes to the fore. It’s hard for me to remember a better performance of this demanding part. Halfway through this movement, the chorus reaches a powerful climax, and the final bass descent to the famous lower H is rock solid.

And so the admiration could be repeated on subsequent fragments of this recording. I know, however, that living in (as Jacek Dukaj calls them) “post-literate” times, instead of reading about music, it is better to just listen to it and let yourself be carried away.

No matter how many versions of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil you’ve heard, this one is a must-read! Revelation!

wKULTURAlnySPOSOB is an online Polish-language periodical whose self-described purpose is, “ALBUM AND BOOK REVIEWS. COLUMNS. BLOG ABOUT CULTURE”.

As we approach Orthodox Pascha, the PaTRAM team wishes you peaceful and purifying days in the final days of Great Lent and a Blessed and Bright Pascha!”

Thank you, as always, to our listeners and subscribers.