<< -- 2 -- Patric Standford RUSSIA'S ROOTS
This immersion into Russian folk tradition remained throughout his life,
firing the two great operas that are the fruits of his later years, The
Invisible City of Kitezh and The Golden Cockerel. For their Naxos
recording, Igor Golovchin and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra have focussed
on Rimsky-Korsakov's colourful evocation of the Russian folk world. The
suite from The Invisible City has four movements, beginning with
the Hymn to Nature, which is followed by a wedding procession, complete
with sleigh bells and one of those languorous melodies he learnt from Filippov.
After the Tartar invasion (shadows brought to life later by Prokofiev),
the suite closes with the death of Fevroniya (the woodland maiden who falls
in love with the Prince of Kitezh) and the grandeur of the Invisible City
to which their souls are brought to the wedding.
Rimsky-Korsakov's first opera, The Maid of Pskov, written almost
40 years earlier that Kitezh, was not done with the expertise he
later acquired, but the Overture and four entr'actes that make up the suite
are the result of later revisions he made and adapted as incidental music
for performances of the original play. Predating this first opera is his
Fantasia on Serbian Themes, an atmospheric opening from which emerges
a lively dance. It is however the mature and beautifully crafted Skazka
(Legend, or as the sleeve has it, Fairy Tale) which provides
the most vivid evocation of the exotic fantasy world of Russia's roots.
It moves from the gentle haunting beauty of the forest and its water-nymphs
through the ominous darkness cast by the witch Baba Yaga and outwards into
the sunlight. There are a few rough edges in the orchestral playing, but
generally this is a recording well worth having.
Copyright © 4 August 2001
Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK
CD INFORMATION - NAXOS 8.553513
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