Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Fri, 03 Dec 2021 00:45:40 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Nicolai Rimski-Korsakov – Russian Easter Festival Overture (1995) Nicolai Rimski-Korsakov – Russian Easter Festival Overture (1995)

Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36 

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Igor Markevitch - conductor


In the summer of 1888, Rimsky-Korsakov completed the orchestration of the Russian Easter Overture, and he finished another of his major works, Scheherezade. The Russian Easter Overture was often regarded by the composer as "The Bright Holiday," which was a popular Russian name for Easter. The Russian Easter Overture is based on themes from the obikhod, which is a printed collection of the most important and most frequently used canticles of the Russian Orthodox Church. This volume represented the first music ever printed in Russia.

The overture begins with a long introduction of a very slow tempo. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote that this opening section of the piece was inspired by Isaiah's prophetic words concerning the future resurrection of the Messiah. The composer claims that the music of the section, which alternates themes from "Let God Arise" from the obikhod and the ecclesiastical theme of "An angel wailed," simply "appeared" to him. The voice of an archangel is represented by a dark trumpet solo.

The slow introduction leads into a transition which becomes the Allegro of the overture. While the introduction was solemn and mysterious, the Allegro is joyous, conveying a sense of excitement. Trumpet blasts, along with a sense of bell-tolling, push the idea of merriment to the fore. An image of a sexton quickly reading to the congregation is also present. Another obikhod theme, "Christ is arisen," is heard in this section, although it is greatly overshadowed by other sounds.

In the Russian Easter Overture Rimsky-Korsakov attempted to show the contrast between the ancient wonder of Isaiah's proclamation with the almost-Pagan celebration of Easter in modern times. The composer wanted the listener to recognize the parallels between their own actions and biblical tales of "pagan merry-making." He also believed that to make this connection, the listener would have needed to attend an Easter morning service in a cathedral with all types of people. In his childhood, the composer did experience this type of thing. Obviously, Rimsky-Korsakov believed that the religious services of his time were "a far cry from the philosophic and socialistic teaching of Christ." In the program for the first performance of the overture, Rimsky-Korsakov provided prose and Bible verses (two from Psalm 68 and six from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16) to accompany the work, but he did not speak of his true intentions. He decided that it would be best to allow the "tones to speak for [him]." ---Chris Boyes, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Sun, 25 Oct 2009 19:50:45 +0000
Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov – Scheherezade (1969) Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov – Scheherezade (1969)

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1. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship (Largo maestoso — Allegro non troppo) 
2. The tale of Prince Kalendar (Lento — Andantino) 
3. The Young Prince and The Young Princess (Andantino quasi allegretto) (
4. The Festival at Baghdad - The Ship Breaks on the rock of Bronze Horseman. (Allegro molto e frenetico Allegro non troppo e maestoso — Lento) 

Heinrich Friedheim, solo violin
USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov - conductor

Recorded in 1969


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's works are distinguished by his colorful and imaginative orchestration, and Scheherazade is perhaps the finest example of them all (Claude Debussy, no slouch of an orchestrator himself, paid Scheherazade the highest compliment by using a passage from its second movement, virtually unaltered, in both La mer and Daphnis et Chloe). Scheherazade's gorgeous melodies and vast, impeccably employed palette of orchestral colors have made it Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular work.

Rimsky-Korsakov's headnote explains the scenario: "The Sultan Schahriar, persuaded of the falseness and faithlessness of women, has sworn to put to death each one of his wives after the first night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by interesting him in tales she told him during 1,001 nights. Pricked by curiosity, the Sultan put off his wife's execution from day to day, and at last gave up entirely his bloody plan." Four such lifesaving narratives, rendered in music, follow. In later years, Rimsky-Korsakov declared that Scheherazade should be regarded as a symphonic suite with an unspecified Oriental program. This makes sense in light of the fact that the music itself has very little narrative logic. However, some details of the program remain relevant.

The first movement, titled The Sea and Sinbad's Ship, opens with the growling chords that represent the Sultan, followed by the sinuous solo violin melody that depicts Scheherazade weaving her tales. Scheherazade recedes, and a swaying melody enters in barcarole time on the strings, swelling like the sea. Brass accents occasionally cause the sea to crash and storm, and sweetly scored interludes suggest island dalliances, but the movement ends with a quiet depiction of what must be calm seas and steady wind.

The Story of the Kalender Prince concerns a prince who disguises himself as a beggar and searches for wisdom. His melancholy theme first appears in solo woodwinds, then enters the strings and quickens as the Prince sets out on his journey. Rimsky-Korsakov suggested that "one might see a fight" when a martial variant of the Sultan's theme enters, surrounded by nervous string oscillations, while a later section with fluttering woodwinds and pizzicato string chords suggests "Sinbad's mighty bird, the Roc."

The third movement is called The Prince and the Princess and explores an unnamed Eastern palace; the Prince appears as a sensual, langorous string theme, the Princess as a relaxed arc of flute melody. Nevertheless, the beginning of the fourth movement finds the Sultan in an irascible mood, and Scheherazade tries to appease him by describing the restless energy of the festival at Baghdad. From there, the action moves out to the sea, where the weather has worsened. Brass cry out, winds sweep up and down, and the music grows to a massive climax topped by a frightening bitonal crash depicting the ship striking rocks and sinking. The storm subsides, and finally the themes of Scheherazade and the Sultan mingle, Scheherazade's violin playing its highest harmonics. --- Andrew Lindemann Malone, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Sun, 25 Oct 2009 19:52:24 +0000
Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov: Antar – Capriccio Espagnol (1973) Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov: Antar – Capriccio Espagnol (1973)

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Symphony No. 2, Op. 9: Antar
1.The Beautiful Desert Of Sham
2.The Pleasure Of Vengeance
3.The Pleasure Of Power
4.The Pleasure Of Love

5. Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34

Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra
Konstantin Ivanov – conductor


Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov had a work ethic that bordered on the obsessive, and when inspiration failed him, he would often busy himself by tidying up works from his youth. This habit accounts for the proliferation of versions of Antar. This work was composed between January and August 1868, and premiered in March of the next year. After a few alterations, it was published in 1880 as his Second Symphony. However, in the "new edition" of 1903, which was dated 1897, "Antar" was substantially revised and called a symphonic suite, with the words Second Symphony in a parenthetical subtitle. In 1913, a final version of Antar came out, called simply a "Symphonic Suite," as Rimsky-Korsakov had decided that Antar was "a poem, suite, fairy tale, story, anything you like, but not a symphony." The final version changes the key of the second movement and has more refined and detailed orchestration. However, the earlier version may best preserve the freshness of Rimsky-Korsakov's response to the myth of Antar, a great warrior from Arabian literature.

Rimsky-Korsakov's program opens with Antar wandering the ruins of the ancient desert city of Palmyra. Rimsky-Korsakov portrays the desert with grim, bare woodwind chords and elusive, chromatic fragments of melody sweeping over them. Antar's theme enters on the strings, in a lush, resigned harmonization, as he has come to the desert to renounce humanity. Suddenly, a beautiful gazelle appears, which Antar chases. A huge black bird swoops down on the gazelle, but Antar repels it with his lance. He then falls asleep, and in his dream he meets the Queen of Palmyra, Gul Nazar, who had taken the form of the gazelle that Antar saved. The Queen is represented by a lovely, winding wind theme. Gul Nazar promises Antar the three joys of life in exchange for his good deed; as Antar contemplates his newfound good fortune, he wakes up to the strains of the harp and the Gul Nazar theme, amid the ruins of Palmyra. So ends the first movement. The second and third movements are devoted to depicting the joys of revenge and power, respectively. Rimsky-Korsakov uses nervous tremolos in the strings and puts the Antar theme in defiant brass to suggest revenge, while the Antar theme is played sweetly on the strings and in fanfares by the brass to depict power. In the last movement, Antar is allowed to experience the ultimate joy, the love of Gul Nazar. He insists that she kill him when she feels his passion cooling; this she does, and Antar dies in her arms. This movement features some of Rimsky-Korsakov's finest orchestration, including transcendently poignant blends in the woodwinds which depict the two lovers as their passion swells and fades, ultimately ascending to heaven on a swirling harp and lying to rest with a few final chords. Anyone who enjoys Scheherazade should try Antar next, as this symphony is almost as inspired as that peak of Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic oeuvre. --- Andrew Lindemann Malone, Rovi


A kaleidoscope is an instrument comprising mirrors enclosing bits of coloured glass which produces, by the simplest of means, the most marvellously coloured patterns - a close analogy to Rimsky-Korsakov, except that anyone can work a kaleidoscope. Rimsky-Korsakov's skill for shaking up orchestral instruments is arguably still unique.

It wasn't always so. Originally a Naval Officer, perhaps explaining his taste for the exotic, he started composing as an untrained amateur. In 1867, his “ultra-modernism”(?) earned him the Professorship of Practical Composition at St. Petersburg Conservatoire. But, as he said, he “couldn't harmonise a chorale, had never done any exercises in counterpoint, had no idea of strict fugue, and moreover couldn't name the chords and intervals.” His knowledge of instrumental techniques was scant (and obsolete!). He coped by teaching himself one step ahead of his students, thereby becoming at once a great teacher and a model pupil.

It must have been Sadko, A Musical Picture Op. 5, a disgracefully neglected masterpiece of orchestral inventiveness, that prompted this crucial recognition, setting him on a course (N.B. Naval metaphor!) which led in 1887 to the Capriccio Espagnol, that most famous of ersatz-Spanish music (indeed, many find it more idiomatic than Falla). You could just relax and bathe in Rimsky's intoxicating brew (I usually do!). Otherwise, read on:

The brief Alborada, or “morning dance”, bursts out fit to wake the dead, never mind the sleeping, alternating two lushly-scored fortissimi with two much sparer renditions, the second melting away into silence.

The set of Variazioni on a gorgeously romantic tune form a beautiful if relatively conventional interlude.

The Alborada returns dressed in new clothes, principally the staggeringly simple device of more or less swapping the roles of the solo clarinet and violin. A sudden crescendo heralds ...

Scena e Canto Gitano: balancing the Variazioni, the Scene is a group of largely cadential variations, each solo cadenza sporting a different percussion halo, on the theme of the subsequent Gypsy Song.

Mid-flight (about where Dean drags Torville like a matador's cape!), the Fandango stamps in emphatically, triggering an astonishing sequence where Rimsky repeatedly establishes one sonority, then overlays it with another in a veritable counterpoint of colour. The Gypsy Song makes a brief reappearance just before the coda, the Alborada resurging in a dizzying whirl, whose dull cadence might spark a small pang of disappointment, if we weren't too dizzy to notice. --- Paul Serotsky,

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Sat, 23 Jul 2011 15:26:43 +0000
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - The legend of the invisible City of Kitezh (1995) Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - The legend of the invisible City of Kitezh (1995)

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Disc: 1
1. Prelude (Praise of Solitude)
2. Act 1: Ach du Wald, mein Wald
3. Act 1: Was soll das heisst, Herr mein Gott?
4. Act 1: Doch wenn dann der Fruling hier Einzug halt
5. Act 1: Gesegnet seien die sussen Lippen
6. Act 1: Die Schutzen brauchen nur auf dem loichten Feld zu erscheinen
7. Act 1: Woher stammst du, Madchen?
8. Act 2: Zeig, Michailuschka, zeig, du Schelm
9. Act 2: Aud dem tiefen See Jar stiegen einst zwolf Auerochsen
10. Act 2: Zeig, Michailuschka, zeig, du Schelm
11. Act two - Was macht mir das schon aus
12. Act 2: Hehe Kinder! Die Schellen klingen
13. Act 2: Weshalb verjagt ihr ihn?						play
14. Act 2: Spielt auf, lasst die Gusli erklingen
15. Act 2: Seid still, Bruder, es blasen Trompeten
16. Act 2: Hai-da! Hai-da!
17. Act 2: Haltet ein, ihr gottlosen Heiden
18. Act 3: Sied gegrusst, Leute von Kitesch!
19. Act 3: Fjodor! Freund! Leidvoller Blinder!
20. Act 3: O Ruhm, nichtiger Ruhm
21. Act 3: Knabe, du bist der Jungste hier
22. Act 3: Wunderbare, himmlische Konigin
23. Act 3: Oi, ihr wahren Getreuen!
24. Act 3: Gott, der Herr, breitet uber Kitesch seinen schutzenden Mantel

Disc: 2
1. Act 3: Interlude, The Battle Near Kershenez
2. Act 3: Hier ist es: Der Eichwald und der See
3. Act 3: Oi, ihr tartarischen Krieger!
4. Act 3: Weine nicht, weine nicht, schones Madchen!
5. Act 3: Horst du mich, Madchen...
6. Act 3: Oi, Taubchen, ich bin frei
7. Act 4: Oi, unmoglich, weiter zu gehen, Grischenka!
8. Act 4: Gott, habe Erbarmen mit Grischenka!
9. Act 4: Wer stizt da neben dir, Furstin?
10. Act 4: Grischenka!...Er hort nicht...Fortgelaufen
11. Act 4: Wappne dich mit Hoffnung							play
12. Act 4: Bist du es, helles Licht meiner Augen?
13. Act 4: Der Brautigam ist gekommen
14. Act 4: Gott versprach den Suchenden
15. Act 4: Die Turen des Paradieses haben sich geoffnet
16. Act 4: Gottes Gnade uber dich, Furstin
17. Act 4: Hier gibt es keine Klagen

Prince Yury Vsevolodovich - Pavel Daniluk
Princeling Vsevolod Yur'yevich - Sergei Naida
Fevroniya - Elena Prokina
Grishka Kuter'ma - Vladimir Galuzin
Fyodor Poyarok - Samson Isumov
Page - Nina Romanova
First Upright Citizen - Alexei Shestov
Second Upright Citizen - Mikhail Nikoforov
Bard - Oleg Zdanov
Beggar - Alexander Tsimbalov
Bedyay - Movsar Mintzaev
Burunday - Vladimir Vaneev
Sirin - Victoria Lukyanets
Alkonost - Aleksandra Durseneva

Wiener Symphoniker
Vladimir Fedoseyev - conductor, 1995


The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya is an opera in four acts by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by Vladimir Belsky, and is based on a combination of two Russian legends: that of St. Fevroniya of Murom, and the city of Kitezh, which became invisible when attacked by the Tatars. The opera was completed in 1905, and the premiere performance took place at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, on February 7, 1907. The world premiere was given in Saint Petersburg, Russia at the Mariinsky Theatre on 20 February (O.S. 7 February), 1907. The scenic designers were Konstantin Korovin and Apollinary Vasnetsov. A year later, the opera was given its premiere at the Bolshoy Theatre, Moscow, Russia on 15 February 1908. Scenic designers were Korovin, Klodt, Vasnetsov. The first performance out of Russia took place at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu, February 1926.


Time: Summer of the 6751st year of the creation of the world

Place: Unspecified location beyond the Volga River


'Hymn to the Wilderness', an orchestral depiction of the scenery of forest wilderness.

Act 1

Kerzhenskii Woods.

These wild forests with dense thickets and bogs are the home of Fevronia (and her "brother", a tree creeper), who lives in a hut. She is besotted with dreams and poetical fancies, and is a daughter of nature, being on friendly terms with the birds and wild animals, and knowing all the mysteries of the forest. One day she meets a young prince in the forest, who has been hunting and has lost his way. He is Vsevolod, son of Prince Yuri of Kitezh, and he falls for her beauty, spiritual integrity and love of people and of nature. They sing a love duet, in which he places a ring on her finger, but this is interrupted by the sound of the hunting party from afar. He bids her farewell and goes to find the party, while she learns to whom she has become betrothed.

Act 2

Ivan Bilibin 173.jpg

Little Kitezh on the Volga

Holiday festivities are going on in the market place in this place, because the wedding procession of Princess Fevronia is expected to come through. The people crowd around the buffoon and laugh at the bear's antics. An old psaltery-player comes and sings a solemn song. The rich townsfolk, who think Prince Vsevolod should have married a girl with better family connections, persuade Grishka Kuterma (the local drunkard) to mock the princess. The procession approaches to the sound of bells, and (in an old custom) the wedding guests throw honey-cakes, ribbons and coins into the crowd as the bride's 'ransom'. The people chase away Grishka and the procession takes up a wedding song.

Suddenly the merrymaking is interrupted as the town is surrounded by an army of invading Tatars. There is a sorrowful lamenting chorus of the people. Fevronia is captured by the Tatars and is racked by anxiety for the fate of her bridegroom and the city of Greater Kitezh, which the Tatars will attack next. But Grishka agrees to betray Russia and to lead the Tatars to the city, while Fevronia prays that it be rendered invisible.

Act 3

Scene 1 - Great Kitezh

Hearing of the invasion, the people of Greater Kitezh gather in the main square in arms, in dead of night. The prince's huntsman Fyodor Poyarok, whom the Tatars have blinded, tells them of the atrocities committed at Little Kitezh. A boy announces that the Tatars approach. The people prepare for battle, and the Prince leads a battalion which sings a chorus of resolution to fight to the end. Then, a golden fog rises over the Lake and shrouds the city, hiding it from the enemy: only the church bells drone faintly. But a fierce battle breaks out on the banks of the river Kherzhenets. A symphonic interlude, composed around the battle-song theme and another representing the Tatar hordes, depicts the grim scene, and introduces:

Scene 2 - At the lake Svetlyi Iar

After a long trek through the wilderness, Grishka has led the Tatars to the edge of the lake. Unable to see the city for the fog, the Tatars accuse him of treachery and tie him to a tree, intending to kill him in the morning. They make fires and share out their loot. Two of the Tatar leaders, Burundai and Bedyai, quarrel over Fevronia and Bedyai is slain. The Tatars, preparing for night, sing a dismal song about ravens flocking to carnage. They sleep, and Fevronia is heard mourning Vsevolod, who has fallen in battle. Grishka, tormented by fear and remorse, begs her to release him, and she does so believing that kindness will heal his soul. But he is haunted by nightmares, in which the chimes of the Kitezh bells become distorted in his brain. He rushes to drown himself, but stops at the shore as the dawn shows that while the city remains invisible, the reflection of the city can be seen in the water, and the bells ring out ever louder. The Tatars are stricken with fear by the sight and disperse.

Act 4

Scene 1 - Kerzhenskii Woods

In pitch darkness Fevronia and Grishka, exhausted, struggle through the wilderness. Grishka is delirious, and after singing a song about the devil and dancing wildly he runs off screaming. Fevronia is lulled to sleep by the sounds of the forest. In her dream the scene is transformed, with fantastic blossoming flowers, candles in the trees, and fairy songbirds. The mythical bird of sorrow, Alkonost, appears to tell her she must die. She welcomes death, and her prince appears to lead her to Kitezh. A second bird, Sirin, promises immortality. The enchantment comes out irresistibly in the Symphonic Interlude leading to:

Scene 2 - The Invisible City

The scene is in the legendary city of beautiful people with gracious hearts. Fevronia and Vsevolod, Prince Yuri and Fyodor Poyarok all reappear. Fevronia sends a message of hope to Grishka, telling him that one day he too will find the way to the Invisible City. Vsevolod leads his bride to the altar with wedding songs, and a Hymn of Joy, as a solemn chorus, ends the opera. Good, Love and Justice are victorious.

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Thu, 24 Nov 2011 10:20:48 +0000
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tsar's Bride (1972) Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tsar's Bride (1972)

1. Part I
2. Part II

Vasily Stepanovich Sobakin, Novgorodian merchant – Igor Novoloshnikov
Marfa, his daughter – Galina Kovaleva
Grigory Gryaznoy, an oprichnik – Vladimir Kinyaev
Malyuta Skuratov, an oprichnik – Vladimir Morozov
Boyar Ivan Sergeyevich Lïkov – Mikhail Egorov
Lyubasha – Irina Bogachova
Yelisey Bomelius, the Tsar's physician – Ivan Bugaev

Choir and Orchestra of Kirov Academic Theatre and Ballet
Viktor Fedotov – conductor

Radio Broadcast from Mariinsky Theatre, 30.12.1972


The text for The Tsar's Bride is by Lev Alexandrovich Mey (1822 - 1862), who was, for a time, a very popular playwright with a predilection for historical dramas based on lives of the tsars. Two of these plays concerned Tsar Ioann IV, known as Ivan the Terrible. Rimsky-Korsakov set both of these to music.

In an 1825 book, Russian historian Ivan Karamzin describes how Tsar Ivan the Terrible chose his third bride, Marfa Sobakina, out of over two thousand women. Her family was raised to the level of nobility and made wealthy. Marfa died two weeks after the wedding. Karamzin suggests Marfa's demise involved treachery and poison. Mey took this account and ran, filling in the holes to create his play, The Tsar's Bride, in 1849. Rimsky-Korsakov became interested in Mey's The Tsar's Bride in 1891 and he began composing slowly and methodically. Although the opera was planned in the grandest manner for the Imperial Theaters, it had to receive its premiere at a small theater under private sponsorship. On October 30, 1901, nearly two years after its first performance, it finally appeared on the Imperial stage.

In many ways, the opera is unlike earlier works by Rimsky-Korsakov. With The Tsar's Bride, the composer deliberately chose to create a "number" opera that concentrated on singing. In fact, Lykov's aria was composed at the request of the singer who played the part at the first performance. It is a conventional work in the grand manner with a symphonic overture, arias for all the principal roles, and numerous choruses. In these respects, it resembles Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor, which Rimsky-Korsakov had completed in 1891. The blatantly "old-fashioned" vocal style of The Tsar's Bride is in part a result of Rimsky-Korsakov's composition of romances and duets during the summer of 1897 with the intention of recapturing the traditional "lyric" style with which he felt he had lost touch. Other characteristics associated with earlier music abound, such as the fugal chorus for the Oprichniki during the banquet in Act I and the counterpoint that seems to permeate most of the ensembles.

Rimsky-Korsakov's use of Leitmotivs in The Tsar's Bride is more akin to Verdi's approach than Wagner's, serving more as reminiscences than as identifying tags. One Leitmotiv that does serve as identification, however, is for the Tsar, a non-singing role. Rimsky-Korsakov borrowed a tune associated with Ivan in his earlier The Maid of Pskov, knowing full well that his audience would make the connection.

Some characteristics of the old Rimsky-Korsakov remain, especially in numbers that would have been perceived as being derived from Russian folk song. The most prominent of these is Lyubasha's gloomy solo in the first act, which is sung unaccompanied except for a returning passage. Rimsky-Korsakov infuses the moments of greatest suspense with unusual harmonic progressions, most notably in Gryaznoy's at the beginning of Act I and Marfa's descent into madness at the end of the opera. ---John Palmer, Rovi


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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Tue, 28 May 2013 16:18:17 +0000
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Sadko (2000) Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Sadko (2000)

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Disc 1
1	Sadko: Tableau I: Introduction "the Blue Okian Sea"
2	Sadko: Tableau I: "We Are Assembled, Merchant Traders"
3	Sadko: Tableau I: "Tune Up Your Strings"
4	Sadko: Tableau I: "'Tis a Beautiful Day In the Middle of the Day"
5	Sadko: Tableau I: "If I Had a Hoard of Gold"
6	Sadko: Tableau I: "Ho, Young Sad-Sadko, Good Fellow"
7	Sadko: Tableau I: "the Merchants Laughed At Him"
8	Sadko: Tableau Ii: "Oh, You Dark Little Grove"
9	Sadko: Tableau Ii: "Ah-Ah-Ah... Come Out of the Blue Lake"
10	Sadko: Tableau Ii: "Strike Up, My Gusli"
11	Sadko: Tableau Ii: "Your Tresses Shine With Mellifluous Dew"
12	Sadko: Tableau Ii: "the Moon, Golden-Horned, Wanes Beyond the Dark Woods"

Disc 2
1	Sadko: Tableau Iii: "All Night I Have Waited For Him In Vain"
2	Sadko: Tableau Iii: "Here He Comes, My Little Husband"
3	Sadko: Tableau Iii: "Look, Free People"
4	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "I Bow To You, Distinguished Merchants!"
5	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "On Lake Ilmen, On the Steep Bank Stands a Hut"
6	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "On the Terrible Rocks the Waves Break"
7	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "Innumberable Are the Diamonds In the Stone Caves"
8	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "City of Stone, Mother To All Cities"
9	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "Ah, Make Your Way To Glorious Venice"
10	Sadko: Tableau Iv: "the Height, 'Tis the Celestial Height"

Disc 3
1	Sadko: Tableau V: "Lo How On the Sea Thirty Ships Are Sailing"
2	Sadko: Tableau V: "Farewell, My Subordinates"
3	Sadko: Tableau V: "Is That Singing?"
4	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Deep Depth, Okian Sea"
5	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Terrible, Broad Blue Sea"
6	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Well, Sadko, You Are Clever At Singing and Playing!"
7	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Strike Up Your Ringing Gusli"
8	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Glorious, Terrible Sea King"
9	Sadko: Tableau Vi: "Ah, You Have Not Danced In Time"
10	Sadko: Tableau Vii: "My Dearest One"
11	Sadko: Tableau Vii: "Slumber Steals Over the Bank"
12	Sadko: Tableau Vii: "Ah, I Am Miserable, So Miserable
13	Sadko: Tableau Vii: "Ah, Greetings To You"

Sadko - Vladimir Petrov
Lyubava - Larissa Avdeyeva
Nezhata - Valentina Levko
King of the Sea - Alexey Geleva
Princess Volkhova - Vera Firsova
Duda - Victor Gorbunov
Foma Nazarich - Nikolai Zakharov
Luka Zinovich - Vladimir Filippov
Viking Guest - Alexander Vedernikov
Indian Guest - Alexei Maslennikov
Venetian Merchant - Yuri Mazurok
Apparition - Vlasimir Valaitis

Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov – conductor, 1964


Sadko, Rimsky-Korsakov's operatic masterpiece, opened at the Solodonikov Theater in Moskow on December 26, 1897. It is an opera in seven tableaux or scenes. Based on Russian bilini legends written about the life of a bard and hero who lived in twelfth century Novgorod, it combines the fantastical and imaginary world of Sea Kings, nymphs, and golden fish, with the daily life of Sadko and his fellow merchants of the sea. Rimsky-Korsakov uses many Russian folk tunes throughout the opera, and in several places he uses actual bilini formulae from the ancient songs to construct the melodies of his recitatives and arias. He wrote his own libretto with the help of several other Russian writers, including Stasov, Yastrebtsev, Shtrup, Findeyzen, and Vladimir Nikolayevich Bel'sky.

The composer began writing music based on the story of Sadko in 1867, with the composition of his tone poem Episode from the legend of Sadko. It quickly became a national favorite in Russia, and much of the music of the symphonic poem was used in the score to the opera. A central theme throughout the opera is the sea. Much of the music depicts the various moods of the sea, and gives the listener pictorial images of the open water. Recurring motifs, themes, and atmospheric orchestral writing bind the opera together and conjure up romantic images.

For the first half of the opera, Rimsky-Korsakov alternates scenes placed in the real world of Novgorod with scenes at Lake Ilmen, where the Sea King and his daughters dwell. The opening music of the opera comes directly from the symphonic poem, and depicts the movements of the waves through surging and pulsating movement and disturbing and mysterious harmonies. The vastness of the sea, its remoteness, and its offer of adventure are all realized in the highly atmospheric writing of the opening. We are then introduced to a crowd of Russian merchants in one of the many exciting crowd scenes that occur throughout the opera. Sadko enters and sings his opening number, accompanying himself on his gusli, which is a Russian relative of the dulcimer or psaltery. His music portrays him as both an Orpheic bard and an ambitious hero. It is an impassioned arioso solo that is met with hostility on the part of his mates. They ridicule him after he is gone in folk song based concerted writing. They sing and dance, and merry-making closes the tableaux.

As Sadko reaches Lake Ilmen, orchestral writing again depicts the mood of the open water. It is still, calm and vast, and only as Sadko's song progresses does the sea begin to come to life. In the bottom of the orchestra, the currents and swellings of the waters are felt underneath the young bard's impassioned solo. His musicianship is rewarded with the love of the Sea King's daughter, who sings to him an extended aria filled with romantic love and desire. Both lyrical and passionate, her music is some of the most beautiful of the opera. It is contrasted by the lament in the following scene of Sadko's young wife, who fears that her husband no longer loves her. The vocal writing for this part is set lower, with the richer tones coloring the sadder mood of the music. Her music is also very beautiful, but now extremely human and broken hearted. The rest of the opera takes place over time, and the two contrasting worlds provide opportunity for adventure, spectacle, and miraculous happenings. --- Rita Laurance, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Fri, 13 May 2011 09:36:56 +0000
Rimski-Korsakov - Mozart and Salieri (1988) Rimski-Korsakov - Mozart and Salieri (1988)

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1. Scene I
2. Scene II

Mozart – Aleksander Fedin (tenor)
Salieri – Evgeny Nesterenko (bass)

Viera Tchasovennaya – piano
Sergei Girshenko – violin
Russian Academic Choir
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Mark Elmler – conductor, 1986


Many years before the movie "Amadeus" based on Peter Schaffer's play of the same name, in fact in the autumn of 1830, Pushkin wrote his "little tragedy" "Mozart and Salieri" which synthesized all the same basic ideas including Salieri's claim in the later years of his mental illness that he had poisoned Mozart because of jealousy. Whether or not Mozart was in fact poisoned, the play goes into depth comparing Salieri's and Mozart's ideas about social behavior and musical genius: in Scene II as Salieri is secretly putting the poison into Mozart's drink, Mozart says that criminal activity and artistic genius are incompatible (thus inadvertently insulting Salieri); in Scene I we have already heard Salieri's opinion that the extreme beauty of Mozart's music would disturb the norms of conventional society and therefore it should not be tolerated. Salieri believes that music is just a matter of following the correct rules, and that "talent plus industry equals genius"; Salieri thinks God is punishing him by giving genius to a free spirit like Mozart. Rimsky-Korsakov's mini-opera (about 40 minutes duration) in two "dramatic scenes" was written in 1897, and he brilliantly incorporates elements of Mozart's style with his own. There are several direct quotes from Mozart's music - an out-of-tune quote from "The Marriage of Figaro" badly played by a street musician, several quotes performed on the piano with orchestral backup by the singer playing Mozart - but in the main Rimsky-Korsakov created richly dramatic music using classical period techniques combined with the advanced modulations of the 1890's. The music keeps the words moving with a sensitive feeling for the natural flow of speech, and underlines the shifting emotions perfectly. An academically correct, but very powerful fugue section separates the two scenes and blends back into the scene in some very ingenious writing. This is a very thought-provoking and emotional work. --- "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Mon, 23 May 2011 18:51:48 +0000
Rimsky Korsakov - Scheherazade (Stokowski) [1962] Rimsky Korsakov - Scheherazade (Stokowski) [1962]

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1. The Sea And Sinbad's Ship (Largo e maestoso - Lento - Allegro non troppo - Tranquillo)
2. The Story Of The Kalender Prince (Lento - Andantino - Allegro molto - Vivace scherzando - Moderato assai - Allegro molto ed animato)
3. The Young Prince And The Young Princess (Andantino quasi allegretto - Pochissimo più mosso - Come prima - Pochissimo più animato)
4. Festival Of Bagdad, Sea, Ship Goes To Pieces On Rock Surmounted By Bronze Warrior (Allegro molto - Lento - Vivo - Allegro non troppo e maestoso - Tempo come I)

Anshel Brusilow – violin
Philadelphia Orchestra
Leopold Stokowski - conductor


The story of Leopold Stokowski is the stuff of legend: now universally acknowledged as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th-century, this extraordinarily gifted musician was for several decades music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in the United States, raising it to a position of international pre-eminence. Although he finally relinquished his position after almost 30 years, he returned to Philadelphia around twenty years later for a series of concerts which have achieved legendary status, including the two Russian works on this one CD: the music of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov was very close to the great conductor's Romantic heart, and the great Philadelphia Orchestra respond to their one-time Maestro with a combination of stunning virtuosity and sensitivity allied to very fine stereo quality sound. ---


There is no mention of the soloist on the CD, but thanks to Mark Obert-Thorn I found out that the concert master in '62 was Anshel Brusilow (but, again, that is no guarantee he is the soloist, though it is likely). Note that the first movement in this live performance times in close to the '27 recording. In fact, the timings here (which I had to get by putting the disc in and then checking the timings) provide evidence of how Stokowski might have played it when live in Philadelphia. The sound here is okay, but nothing special. It seems to be monaural but it does have some ambiance that suggests early stereo. Damn't why doesn't the Philadelphia Orchestra market this and the other Stokowski '60s performances??? I'd love to hear the Sibelius 4th!!! Over-all, while this is an exciting performance, the sound mitigates against an unqualified recommendation. Besides, how the hell would you find a copy? --- Robert Stumpf II,

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Mon, 02 Jan 2017 15:59:52 +0000
Rimsky-Korsakov - Christmas Eve, Night on Mount Triglav (1996) Rimsky-Korsakov - Christmas Eve, Night on Mount Triglav (1996)

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01. Christmas Eve:1.Introduction (Overture)-Scene VI    [0:03:50.32]
02. Christmas Eve:2.Games and Dances of Stars    [0:01:35.37]
03. Christmas Eve:3.Procession of the Comet    [0:00:44.66]
04. Christmas Eve:4.Round Dance    [0:01:43.50]
05. Christmas Eve:5.Czardas and the rain of shooting stars    [0:00:48.65]
06. Christmas Eve:6.Devil's kolyadka-Scene VII    [0:05:25.72]
07. Christmas Eve:7.Polonaise    [0:05:40.25]
08. Christmas Eve:8.Scene VIII    [0:02:22.68]
09. Christmas Eve:9.Ovsyen and Kolyada-Procession    [0:04:04.40]
10. Night on Mount Triglav:1.Introduction to Act III,Scene I    [0:06:58.62]
11. Night on Mount Triglav:2.Ronde fantastique    [0:03:18.28]
12. Night on Mount Triglav:3.Scene II    [0:05:47.02]
13. Night on Mount Triglav:4.Scene III    [0:01:08.12]
14. Night on Mount Triglav:5.Ronde infernale    [0:03:11.61]
15. Night on Mount Triglav:6.Scene IV    [0:09:49.22]
16. Night on Mount Triglav:7.Scene V    [0:04:20.25]
17. The Tsar's Bride:Overture    [0:06:48.38]
18. The Tsar's Bride:Intermezzo    [0:01:59.05]
19. On the Tomb: (prelude) op.61    [0:04:29.17]
20. Greetings    [0:01:09.50]

Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Igor Golovschin – conductor


Russian cultural nationalism in the nineteenth century had its musical reflection first in the work of Glinka and then in that of group of five composers, Vladimir Stasov’s Mighty Handful, dominated by Balakirev. The group included César Cui, a professor of military fortification, the young guards officer Mussorgsky, the professor of chemistry Borodin and a young naval officer, Rimsky-Korsakov. Born in 1844, this last had followed his childhood ambition and family tradition by entering the naval college in 1856. He had shown an early interest and ability in music, and these he was able to further during his naval career, which lasted until his resignation from the service in 1872. Thereafter he spent a dozen years as Inspector of Naval Bands, a civilian position specially created for him, through the influence of his family, and only abolished in 1884. This led him to develop a particular interest in instrumentation, an aspect of music that had fascinated him since his first experience of opera, Flotow’s Indra, which he had seen in St Petersburg in 1857.

Rimsky-Korsakov had first met Balakirev, Cui and Mussorgsky in 1861, but contact had been broken during a two-and-a-half-year tour of naval duty abroad. From this he returned with a completed symphony, which was performed under the direction of Balakirev at a Free School of Music concert in St Petersburg in 1865. The association with Balakirev was to continue, although the latter’s personality, his jealousies and later fanatical religious preoccupations led eventually to a certain coolness. In particular, Rimsky-Korsakov was involved with the new circle of Belyayev, whose musical Friday evenings rivalled those earlier in the week over which Balakirev had long presided. He remained loyal, however, to the other members of the group and this loyalty led him to spend a great deal of time on their music. Mussorgsky died in 1881, leaving much work unfinished, and, in Rimsky-Korsakov’s professional view, in need of revision. This he undertook. Similarly, the death of Borodin in 1887 left him the self-imposed task of completing the latter’s opera Prince Igor, which he did with the help of his pupil Glazunov.

There were further interruptions in the 1890s to Rimsky-Korsakov’s career as a composer, with bouts of depression, the result of cerebrospinal neurasthenia. In 1896 he had completed work on his opera Sadko, but the Tsar’s request for something more cheerful led to a breach between the composer and the Imperial Theatres. The opera Mozart and Salieri, based on Pushkin, was staged by Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera Company, and the later opera Pan Voyevoda was also entrusted to a private company. In 1905 the composer was involved in the student unrest of that year, as a result of which he was dismissed from the position he had held at the St Petersburg Conservatory since 1871. He was reinstated, with Glazunov and others, under the more liberal policies that followed. There had been student demonstrations in his support at performances of the opera Kaschey the Immortal and trouble with the censors prevented the staging of his last opera, The Golden Cockerel, until after his death, which took place in June 1908.

Although Rimsky-Korsakov’s reputation outside Russia may rest primarily on a number of colourful orchestral works, his principal achievement must be seen to rest on his sixteen or so operas, major contributions to a relatively new repertoire. Christmas Eve (Noch’ pered rozhdestvom) was completed in 1895 and first staged in December that year at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The opera is based on a story by Gogol that had also served as the basis of operas by Tchaikovsky and Nikolay Solov’yov among others and it was the former’s death in 1893 that allowed Rimsky-Korsakov to tackle the same tale, which he did with a libretto of his own, describing the work as ‘a carol come to life’. To Gogol he added elements of Slav mythology and this he later regarded as a mistake, although the subject had, as he said, allowed him to write a great deal of interesting music. The first staging was almost prevented by the intervention of the Grand Dukes Vladimir Alexandrovich and Mikhail Nikolayevich, who attended the dress rehearsal and took strong exception to the presence on stage of a character that they identified with their ancestress the Empress Catherine II. Last minute changes were made and the production went ahead, in the absence of the composer, who had found the objections and the necessary substitution of a baritone for the mezzo-soprano Queen of the original version ridiculous.

Gogol’s story deals with the witch Solokha, mother of the blacksmith Vakula. She agrees, in collusion with the Devil, angry at Vakula’s caricature of him in an icon, to steal the moon, thereby preventing Vakula from wooing his beloved Oxana. With no moon or stars, all is dark, leading to great confusion. Solokha, in search of a lover, entertains the Devil, hiding him in a sack when the village headman appears. He in turn is hidden in a sack, when another visitor arrives, the parish clerk, to be hidden in a sack when Chub, Oxana’s father arrives, making for the Devil’s sack as Vakula returns. Outside the hut carols are sung. Oxana makes fun of Vakula and demands that he fetch her a pair of boots from the Tsaritsa, while the carol-singers free the village notables hidden in the sacks that Vakula has brought out. On his journey to court, Vakula carries the sack of the Devil, who leaps out to offer a bargain, Oxana for his soul. Vakula carries the sack of the Devil, who leaps out to offer a bargain, Oxana for his soul. Vakula will not agree, but forces the Devil to take him forward on his journey to the palace. There, amid court entertainments, Vakula asks for the Tsaritsa’s boots. The request is granted and the Devil now spirits Vakula away home again. All ends in happiness when Vakula, believed dead, returns, welcomed by Oxana who wants him rather than the boots he has brought. The composer drew an orchestral suite from the score, well aware of the faults he saw in the opera as a whole. The orchestral suite opens with an introduction that sets the scene of a starry moonlit night, before the Devil and Solokha succeed in securing darkness. The other excerpts bring a series of dances, culminating in the triumphant kolyadka of the Devil. An extended Polonaise is heard in the royal palace. Vakula returns home on Christmas morning and final celebration of Ovsyen, the New Year, and Kolyada, the first day of the month, is heard, associating Christmas with the earlier pagan festival.

In 1872 Rimsky-Korsakov had been commissioned, together with Cui, Borodin and Mussorgsky, to provide the music for an elaborate staged fairy ballet, Mlada. Before the work could be mounted, however, the director of the Court Theatre found the whole project beyond his resources. Rimsky-Korsakov returned to the subject of Mlada in an opera staged in 1891, influenced now by his first hearing of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 1889. The new opera won no great success and was soon withdrawn. Night on Mount Triglav is an orchestral arrangement of the third act of the opera of 1890, redrafted in this form in 1901, and followed two years later by a suite from the whole opera. Night on Mount Triglav was among the compositions by Rimsky-Korsakov performed in Paris in 1907 in a series of five concerts of Russian music devised by Dyagilev that also included the orchestral music from Christmas Eve.

The third act of Mlada is set on Mount Triglav, the mountain of three peaks, where the soul of Mlada seeks the spirit of her beloved Prince in his dreams. The scene is that of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bare Mountain, but here it is set in an opening dream-world in the introduction to the act. The introduction depict a starry night on the mountain. There is a fantastic dance of the ghosts of the dead, with their midsummer garlands. The shade of Princess Mlada leads Prince Yaromir up the mountainside, and he begs her to forgive him for his threatened infidelity, asking her to allow him entry to the world of shades. He must first undergo various trials and now the moons turns red and witches’s sabbath begins, with the monstrous creatures that surround the demon Chernobog. Morena, goddess of the underworld, asks Chernobog to use his magic to make Yaromir fall in love with Voyslava, the princess who has murdered Mlada. Kashchey the Deathless now conjures up a vision of Cleopatra, to seductively oriental melodies, but the cock crows, dawn breaks, and Yaromir wakes from his dream, now resolved to find out its meaning. In the following act he is united with Mlada, after killing Voyslava, their spirits seen together after an inundation that has destroyed Voyslava’s city of Retra and the temple where Yaromir has sought an answer to his dilemma.

Rimsky-Korsakov completed his opera The Tsar’s Bride in 1898. The work was first staged in Moscow the following year by Mamontov’s company. Based on a play by Lev Alexandrovich Mey, the opera is set in the reign of Ivan the Terrible and deals with the attempt of the powerful oprichnik Gryaznoy to win the love of Marfa, already promised by her father to a young nobleman, Ivan Lïkov. Gryaznoy is loved by Lyubasha, who vows revenge o her rival. Marfa, however, is chosen as the Tsar’s bride. Her loves is killed by Gryaznoy, while Marfa goes out of her mind, poisoned by Lyubasha, who is stabbed to death by Gryaznov, now mistaken by Marfa in her delirium for her first betrothed, Vanya. The Overture provides an impressive and apt introduction to the first act, set in Gryaznov’s house. The Intermezzo, drawn from the second act, uses material associated from the first act with Lyubasha, who now steals in, peering through the window of Marfa’s house and understanding that this is her rival.

On the Tomb, written in 1904, laments the death of Mitrofan Petrovich Belyayev, to whose interest and encouragement Russian composers of the time owed so much. Belyayev, an amateur musician, had been able to set up a publishing company in Leipzig, under the name Belaieff, and to sponsor concerts of Russian music. The establishment of a publishing company outside Russia was of importance for the protection of international copyright, not provided by publication in Russia itself. In his will Belyayev left much of his fortune to the continuation of the projects with which he had been associated, music-publishing, the sponsoring of concerts and the provision of prizes for young musicians. Rimsky-Korsakov’s tribute to him, based on liturgical material and the sound of the death knell that he recalled from his childhood, was performed at the first Lenten concert of the Russian Music Society in 1904, but seems to have attracted little attention. There is marked contrast between this work and Greeting (Zdravitsa), written to celebrate Glazunov’s jubilee in 1907 at the end of January and performed on the formal occasion that marked the event in a concert that included performances of Glazunov’s First and Eight Symphonies and a Greeting written by Lyadov. This was only one of a number of celebrations of Glazunov’s twenty-five years as a composer.

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:20:15 +0000
Rimsky-Korsakov - Quintet for Flute Clarinet Horn Bassoon and Piano in B-flat (1981) Rimsky-Korsakov - Quintet for Flute Clarinet Horn Bassoon and Piano in B-flat (1981)

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1. Allegro con brio
2. Andante – Fughetta – Andante
3. Rondo – Allegretto 		play

Nash Ensemble of London:
Ian Brown - piano 
Judith Pearce - flute 
Antony Pay - clarinet 
John Pigneguy - horn 
Brian Wightman – bassoon


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Quintet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon was written in 1876 for a chamber music competition. It was not a successful entry, losing out to a composition by Czech composer Eduard Napravník. The Quintet has three movements; the first, Allegro con brio, is "in the classical style of Beethoven" according to the composer. Conversely, its style is very different from every other work of Rimsky-Korsakov. The second, Andante, in contrast, is the direct product of Rimky-Kortsakov's "Russianness." It opens with a horn melody accompanied with piano chords. Together, the winds create an atmosphere tinged with melancholy, while the piano accompanies for most of the time. The third, Rondo, Allegretto vivace, begins as a dance tune that gradually becomes more serious until the rhythm stops altogether. After an complicated section for solo piano, the dance rhythm of the beginning is reintroduced for the closing pages. ---Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Rimsky-Korsakov Nicolai Thu, 09 Jun 2011 13:25:57 +0000