Notes and Editorial Reviews
The service of the Orthodox Church known as the All-Night Vigil has attracted many composers. Famous settings exist of parts or all of the service by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov among others. The service encompasses Vespers and Matins--the portions recorded here--interspersed with assorted prayers and chants. Among the traditions of the Orthodox Church are the complete absence of instruments, so for the music to be usable in a liturgical context it must all be for unaccompanied voices. In order to combat any potential monotony of sound, Rautavaara has deployed five soloists heard in various combinations with the large mixed choir that makes up the foundation of the music.
Rautavaara's music is audibly within the traditions of the Orthodox Church while retaining the stylistic traits common to his secular music. Although his rhythmic and harmonic usage ranges farther afield than might be associated with such music, actual traditional Slavic folk and liturgical music is rhythmically quite complex and startlingly dissonant, with much use made of seconds and sevenths. That said, little here would disturb any but the most conservative listener, and there is much of great beauty. The sound produced by the soloists and chorus is gorgeous.
BBC Music (5/98, p.59) - Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5) - "...If the prospect of an all-night vigil sung unaccompanied in Finnish doesn't enthrall you, don't worry: you're not alone. But give this disc a try, if you can: it delivers far more than it promises.