Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
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01Musical Portraits and Self-Portraits20170925

"Donald Macleod explores Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version, and the song-cycle The Nursery.

In August 1873 the painter and architectural designer Viktor Hartmann, a close friend of Mussorgsky's, suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack. Early the following year an exhibition of around 400 of his images - including watercolours, architectural sketches and costume designs - was mounted in St Petersburg in his honour. As his own memorial to Hartmann, Mussorgsky selected ten of the pictures to illustrate in music, adding five intermezzi in the form of 'promenades', to suggest the composer's own progress through the exhibition. His charming song-cycle The Nursery is a memorial of a different kind - to his own lost childhood, or at least an idealized version of it.

'Gathering mushrooms'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Pictures from an Exhibition - A remembrance of Viktor Hartmann
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

With Nursey; In the Corner; The Beetle; With the Doll; Evening Prayer; On the Hobby-Horse (The Nursery)
Marjana Lipovšek, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano.

"

01Musical Portraits and Self-Portraits20170925

Donald Macleod explores Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version, and the song-cycle The Nursery.

In August 1873 the painter and architectural designer Viktor Hartmann, a close friend of Mussorgsky's, suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack. Early the following year an exhibition of around 400 of his images - including watercolours, architectural sketches and costume designs - was mounted in St Petersburg in his honour. As his own memorial to Hartmann, Mussorgsky selected ten of the pictures to illustrate in music, adding five intermezzi in the form of 'promenades', to suggest the composer's own progress through the exhibition. His charming song-cycle The Nursery is a memorial of a different kind - to his own lost childhood, or at least an idealized version of it.

'Gathering mushrooms'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Pictures from an Exhibition - A remembrance of Viktor Hartmann
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

With Nursey; In the Corner; The Beetle; With the Doll; Evening Prayer; On the Hobby-Horse (The Nursery)
Marjana Lipovšek, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano.

01Musical Portraits And Self-portraits20170925

Donald Macleod explores Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version, and the song-cycle The Nursery.

In August 1873 the painter and architectural designer Viktor Hartmann, a close friend of Mussorgsky's, suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack. Early the following year an exhibition of around 400 of his images - including watercolours, architectural sketches and costume designs - was mounted in St Petersburg in his honour. As his own memorial to Hartmann, Mussorgsky selected ten of the pictures to illustrate in music, adding five intermezzi in the form of 'promenades', to suggest the composer's own progress through the exhibition. His charming song-cycle The Nursery is a memorial of a different kind - to his own lost childhood, or at least an idealized version of it.

'Gathering mushrooms'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Pictures from an Exhibition - A remembrance of Viktor Hartmann
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

With Nursey; In the Corner; The Beetle; With the Doll; Evening Prayer; On the Hobby-Horse (The Nursery)
Marjana Lipovšek, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano.

01Musical Portraits And Self-portraits20170925

Donald Macleod explores Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, Pictures from an Exhibition, in its original piano version, and the song-cycle The Nursery.

In August 1873 the painter and architectural designer Viktor Hartmann, a close friend of Mussorgsky's, suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack. Early the following year an exhibition of around 400 of his images - including watercolours, architectural sketches and costume designs - was mounted in St Petersburg in his honour. As his own memorial to Hartmann, Mussorgsky selected ten of the pictures to illustrate in music, adding five intermezzi in the form of 'promenades', to suggest the composer's own progress through the exhibition. His charming song-cycle The Nursery is a memorial of a different kind - to his own lost childhood, or at least an idealized version of it.

'Gathering mushrooms'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Pictures from an Exhibition - A remembrance of Viktor Hartmann
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

With Nursey; In the Corner; The Beetle; With the Doll; Evening Prayer; On the Hobby-Horse (The Nursery)
Marjana Lipovšek, mezzo soprano
Graham Johnson, piano.

02Mlada20170926

"Music dramas in miniature and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, music dramas in miniature; and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

Given the modest size of Mussorgsky's output, his influence on subsequent generations of composers is disproportionate; his originality allows him to punch above his weight. This is particularly true in the field of opera - Mussorgsky completed only one, Boris Godunov, but it rewrote the operatic rulebook. His tragic early death doubtless robbed us of several more ground-breaking operatic works, but as Donald observes, "the opera-lover's loss is the song-lover's gain", as Mussorgsky left a substantial and relatively little-known body of individual songs, many of which are built around dramatic scenarios. The dramatic scenario at the heart of Mlada, conceived as a spectacular opera-ballet that was to have been a collaboration between Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov, was a fantastical one, involving a murdered princess who's eventually reunited with her prince in heaven. There was to be no happy ending for the project, though, which fizzled out due to lack of funds. Mussorgsky contributed four sections, two of them recycled from earlier works and all of them subsequently put to work in new musical contexts.

Sorochintsi Fair, Act 1 - Fair scene
Lydia Chernikh, soprano (Parassia)
Vladimir Matorin, bass (Tcherevik)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Stanislavsky Theatre
Vladimir Esipov, conductor

'The joyous hour'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Darling Savishna'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'King Saul'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Cradle Song ('Sleep, sleep, peasant son')
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'A Prayer'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'Night'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Ah, you drunken sot!'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Chorus of People in the Temple - from Oedipus in Athens
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Triumphal March (The Capture of Kars)
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

St John's Night on Bald Mountain (original version)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.

"

02Mlada20170926

Music dramas in miniature and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, music dramas in miniature; and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

Given the modest size of Mussorgsky's output, his influence on subsequent generations of composers is disproportionate; his originality allows him to punch above his weight. This is particularly true in the field of opera - Mussorgsky completed only one, Boris Godunov, but it rewrote the operatic rulebook. His tragic early death doubtless robbed us of several more ground-breaking operatic works, but as Donald observes, "the opera-lover's loss is the song-lover's gain", as Mussorgsky left a substantial and relatively little-known body of individual songs, many of which are built around dramatic scenarios. The dramatic scenario at the heart of Mlada, conceived as a spectacular opera-ballet that was to have been a collaboration between Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov, was a fantastical one, involving a murdered princess who's eventually reunited with her prince in heaven. There was to be no happy ending for the project, though, which fizzled out due to lack of funds. Mussorgsky contributed four sections, two of them recycled from earlier works and all of them subsequently put to work in new musical contexts.

Sorochintsi Fair, Act 1 - Fair scene
Lydia Chernikh, soprano (Parassia)
Vladimir Matorin, bass (Tcherevik)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Stanislavsky Theatre
Vladimir Esipov, conductor

'The joyous hour'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Darling Savishna'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'King Saul'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Cradle Song ('Sleep, sleep, peasant son')
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'A Prayer'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'Night'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Ah, you drunken sot!'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Chorus of People in the Temple - from Oedipus in Athens
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Triumphal March (The Capture of Kars)
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

St John's Night on Bald Mountain (original version)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.

02Mlada20170926

Music dramas in miniature and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, music dramas in miniature; and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

Given the modest size of Mussorgsky's output, his influence on subsequent generations of composers is disproportionate; his originality allows him to punch above his weight. This is particularly true in the field of opera - Mussorgsky completed only one, Boris Godunov, but it rewrote the operatic rulebook. His tragic early death doubtless robbed us of several more ground-breaking operatic works, but as Donald observes, "the opera-lover's loss is the song-lover's gain", as Mussorgsky left a substantial and relatively little-known body of individual songs, many of which are built around dramatic scenarios. The dramatic scenario at the heart of Mlada, conceived as a spectacular opera-ballet that was to have been a collaboration between Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov, was a fantastical one, involving a murdered princess who's eventually reunited with her prince in heaven. There was to be no happy ending for the project, though, which fizzled out due to lack of funds. Mussorgsky contributed four sections, two of them recycled from earlier works and all of them subsequently put to work in new musical contexts.

Sorochintsi Fair, Act 1 - Fair scene
Lydia Chernikh, soprano (Parassia)
Vladimir Matorin, bass (Tcherevik)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Stanislavsky Theatre
Vladimir Esipov, conductor

'The joyous hour'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Darling Savishna'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'King Saul'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Cradle Song ('Sleep, sleep, peasant son')
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'A Prayer'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'Night'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Ah, you drunken sot!'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Chorus of People in the Temple - from Oedipus in Athens
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Triumphal March (The Capture of Kars)
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

St John's Night on Bald Mountain (original version)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.

02Mlada20170926

Music dramas in miniature and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, music dramas in miniature; and Mlada, a collaboration that unravelled.

Given the modest size of Mussorgsky's output, his influence on subsequent generations of composers is disproportionate; his originality allows him to punch above his weight. This is particularly true in the field of opera - Mussorgsky completed only one, Boris Godunov, but it rewrote the operatic rulebook. His tragic early death doubtless robbed us of several more ground-breaking operatic works, but as Donald observes, "the opera-lover's loss is the song-lover's gain", as Mussorgsky left a substantial and relatively little-known body of individual songs, many of which are built around dramatic scenarios. The dramatic scenario at the heart of Mlada, conceived as a spectacular opera-ballet that was to have been a collaboration between Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov, was a fantastical one, involving a murdered princess who's eventually reunited with her prince in heaven. There was to be no happy ending for the project, though, which fizzled out due to lack of funds. Mussorgsky contributed four sections, two of them recycled from earlier works and all of them subsequently put to work in new musical contexts.

Sorochintsi Fair, Act 1 - Fair scene
Lydia Chernikh, soprano (Parassia)
Vladimir Matorin, bass (Tcherevik)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Stanislavsky Theatre
Vladimir Esipov, conductor

'The joyous hour'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Darling Savishna'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'King Saul'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Cradle Song ('Sleep, sleep, peasant son')
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'A Prayer'
Boris Christoff, baritone
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

'Night'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

'Ah, you drunken sot!'
Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Semion Skigin, piano

Chorus of People in the Temple - from Oedipus in Athens
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Triumphal March (The Capture of Kars)
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

St John's Night on Bald Mountain (original version)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.

03Boris20170927

"The tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

"When an artist revises, it means he is dissatisfied", Mussorgsky once told his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. That's as may be, but Mussorgsky embarked on his revisions to the first version of his opera about the troubled Russian Tsar because it had been rejected by the music committee of the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg. The committee objected not to the depiction of a Tsar on stage, but - rather bizarrely to our ears - to the "originality and freshness" of the music, and also, and perhaps crucially, to the absence of "an important female role". To beat the ban, evidently Mussorgsky could have got away with adding a single scene for a prima donna, but he seems to have been genuinely galvanized by the opportunity to reconsider his work, and ended up supplying an entirely new act, as well as an additional final scene. The opera was well received on the premiere of this revised version in 1874, but after Mussorgsky's tragically early death only seven years later, Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to produce a new, 'improved' version of the score, and it was in this inauthentic version that audiences were to hear Boris Godunov for many years to come. Only with the David Lloyd-Jones edition of 1975 was the opera again heard in a form close to that in which the composer had conceived it.

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Prologue, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Chorus of the National Opera of Sofia
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
André Cluytens, conductor

Boris Godunov (original 1869 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Pt 2 scene 2, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor

'Where art thou, little star?'
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Act 2 scene 2
Ludovic Spies, tenor (Dmitri)
Zoltan Kélémen, bass-baritone (Rangoni)
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano (Marina Mnishek)
Sofia Radio Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Boris Godunov (1872 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Act 2, conclusion
Vladimir Vaneev, bass (Boris Godunov)
Yuri Laptev , baritone (Boyar-in-attendance)
Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo soprano (Fydor)
Konstantin Pluzhnikov, tenor (Shuisky)
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor.

"

03Boris20170927

The tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

"When an artist revises, it means he is dissatisfied", Mussorgsky once told his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. That's as may be, but Mussorgsky embarked on his revisions to the first version of his opera about the troubled Russian Tsar because it had been rejected by the music committee of the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg. The committee objected not to the depiction of a Tsar on stage, but - rather bizarrely to our ears - to the "originality and freshness" of the music, and also, and perhaps crucially, to the absence of "an important female role". To beat the ban, evidently Mussorgsky could have got away with adding a single scene for a prima donna, but he seems to have been genuinely galvanized by the opportunity to reconsider his work, and ended up supplying an entirely new act, as well as an additional final scene. The opera was well received on the premiere of this revised version in 1874, but after Mussorgsky's tragically early death only seven years later, Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to produce a new, 'improved' version of the score, and it was in this inauthentic version that audiences were to hear Boris Godunov for many years to come. Only with the David Lloyd-Jones edition of 1975 was the opera again heard in a form close to that in which the composer had conceived it.

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Prologue, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Chorus of the National Opera of Sofia
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
André Cluytens, conductor

Boris Godunov (original 1869 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Pt 2 scene 2, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor

'Where art thou, little star?'
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Act 2 scene 2
Ludovic Spies, tenor (Dmitri)
Zoltan Kélémen, bass-baritone (Rangoni)
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano (Marina Mnishek)
Sofia Radio Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Boris Godunov (1872 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Act 2, conclusion
Vladimir Vaneev, bass (Boris Godunov)
Yuri Laptev , baritone (Boyar-in-attendance)
Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo soprano (Fydor)
Konstantin Pluzhnikov, tenor (Shuisky)
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor.

03Boris20170927

The tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

"When an artist revises, it means he is dissatisfied", Mussorgsky once told his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. That's as may be, but Mussorgsky embarked on his revisions to the first version of his opera about the troubled Russian Tsar because it had been rejected by the music committee of the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg. The committee objected not to the depiction of a Tsar on stage, but - rather bizarrely to our ears - to the "originality and freshness" of the music, and also, and perhaps crucially, to the absence of "an important female role". To beat the ban, evidently Mussorgsky could have got away with adding a single scene for a prima donna, but he seems to have been genuinely galvanized by the opportunity to reconsider his work, and ended up supplying an entirely new act, as well as an additional final scene. The opera was well received on the premiere of this revised version in 1874, but after Mussorgsky's tragically early death only seven years later, Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to produce a new, 'improved' version of the score, and it was in this inauthentic version that audiences were to hear Boris Godunov for many years to come. Only with the David Lloyd-Jones edition of 1975 was the opera again heard in a form close to that in which the composer had conceived it.

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Prologue, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Chorus of the National Opera of Sofia
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
André Cluytens, conductor

Boris Godunov (original 1869 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Pt 2 scene 2, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor

'Where art thou, little star?'
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Act 2 scene 2
Ludovic Spies, tenor (Dmitri)
Zoltan Kélémen, bass-baritone (Rangoni)
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano (Marina Mnishek)
Sofia Radio Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Boris Godunov (1872 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Act 2, conclusion
Vladimir Vaneev, bass (Boris Godunov)
Yuri Laptev , baritone (Boyar-in-attendance)
Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo soprano (Fydor)
Konstantin Pluzhnikov, tenor (Shuisky)
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor.

03Boris20170927

The tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the tortured history of the two operas Mussorgsky called Boris Godunov.

"When an artist revises, it means he is dissatisfied", Mussorgsky once told his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. That's as may be, but Mussorgsky embarked on his revisions to the first version of his opera about the troubled Russian Tsar because it had been rejected by the music committee of the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg. The committee objected not to the depiction of a Tsar on stage, but - rather bizarrely to our ears - to the "originality and freshness" of the music, and also, and perhaps crucially, to the absence of "an important female role". To beat the ban, evidently Mussorgsky could have got away with adding a single scene for a prima donna, but he seems to have been genuinely galvanized by the opportunity to reconsider his work, and ended up supplying an entirely new act, as well as an additional final scene. The opera was well received on the premiere of this revised version in 1874, but after Mussorgsky's tragically early death only seven years later, Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to produce a new, 'improved' version of the score, and it was in this inauthentic version that audiences were to hear Boris Godunov for many years to come. Only with the David Lloyd-Jones edition of 1975 was the opera again heard in a form close to that in which the composer had conceived it.

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Prologue, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Chorus of the National Opera of Sofia
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
André Cluytens, conductor

Boris Godunov (original 1869 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Pt 2 scene 2, conclusion ("Slava! Slava! Slava!")
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor

'Where art thou, little star?'
Boris Christoff, bass
Alexandre Labinsky, piano

Boris Godunov (Rimsky-Korsakov version); Act 2 scene 2
Ludovic Spies, tenor (Dmitri)
Zoltan Kélémen, bass-baritone (Rangoni)
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano (Marina Mnishek)
Sofia Radio Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Boris Godunov (1872 version, ed. David Lloyd-Jones); Act 2, conclusion
Vladimir Vaneev, bass (Boris Godunov)
Yuri Laptev , baritone (Boyar-in-attendance)
Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo soprano (Fydor)
Konstantin Pluzhnikov, tenor (Shuisky)
Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg
Valery Gergiev, conductor.

04Meditating on History20170928

"Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the operatic masterpiece Mussorgsky left unfinished; and his greatest song-cycle, Sunless.

Like Musical, Opera is a notoriously fluid art-form; new circumstances of performance may well require new musical solutions. Verdi's Don Carlo(s) is a case in point: it exists in four main versions (with a number of further variants), between which any new production has to choose. Mussorgsky had already demonstrated the malleability of the medium in his only completed opera, Boris Godunov, which exists in two substantially different versions, not to mention subsequent editions by Rimsky-Korsakov, Pavel Lamm, Dmitri Shostakovich and Karol Rathaus. There's a problem of a different order in determining the score of Mussorgsky's second major opera, Khovanshchina - The Khovansky Affair: the composer died before he completed it, so a definitive version is, by definition, an impossibility. As with Boris, Rimsky-Korsakov came to the rescue, in effect acting as his friend's musical executor and producing the version in which audiences would encounter the opera for years to come. Then Diaghilev got interested in mounting a production, but he disliked the Rimsky version and asked Stravinsky and Ravel to take a crack at it. Eventually Shostakovich came to the party, and it's his version that's usually performed today. At the other end of Mussorgsky's career, The Marriage, based on a comedy by Gogol, is also incomplete - but this time because Mussorgsky got bored with this rather dry experiment in matching music to the natural rhythms and inflections of speech and abandoned it. Thankfully he completed Sunless, his matchless cycle of six settings of beautiful but deeply melancholic poems by his friend and, for a time, flat-mate, Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov. Rarely has such utter hopelessness felt so deeply satisfying.

Une larme
Elena Kuschnerova, piano

The Marriage; scene 2
Vladimir Khrulev, baritone (Podkolesin)
Lyudmila Kolmakova, mezzo soprano (Fyokla Ivanovna)
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Khovanshchina; Act 2, conclusion
Aage Haugland, bass (Prince Ivan Khovansky)
Vladimir Popov, tenor (Prince Vasili Golitsyn)
Anatolij Kotscherga, baritone (Shaklovity)
Paata Burchuladze, baritone (Dosifei)
Marjana Lipovsek, alto (Marfa)
Peter Köves, baritone (Varsonofiev)
Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Sunless
Yevgeny Nesterenko, bass
Vladimir Krainev, piano.

"

04Meditating on History20170928

Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the operatic masterpiece Mussorgsky left unfinished; and his greatest song-cycle, Sunless.

Like Musical, Opera is a notoriously fluid art-form; new circumstances of performance may well require new musical solutions. Verdi's Don Carlo(s) is a case in point: it exists in four main versions (with a number of further variants), between which any new production has to choose. Mussorgsky had already demonstrated the malleability of the medium in his only completed opera, Boris Godunov, which exists in two substantially different versions, not to mention subsequent editions by Rimsky-Korsakov, Pavel Lamm, Dmitri Shostakovich and Karol Rathaus. There's a problem of a different order in determining the score of Mussorgsky's second major opera, Khovanshchina - The Khovansky Affair: the composer died before he completed it, so a definitive version is, by definition, an impossibility. As with Boris, Rimsky-Korsakov came to the rescue, in effect acting as his friend's musical executor and producing the version in which audiences would encounter the opera for years to come. Then Diaghilev got interested in mounting a production, but he disliked the Rimsky version and asked Stravinsky and Ravel to take a crack at it. Eventually Shostakovich came to the party, and it's his version that's usually performed today. At the other end of Mussorgsky's career, The Marriage, based on a comedy by Gogol, is also incomplete - but this time because Mussorgsky got bored with this rather dry experiment in matching music to the natural rhythms and inflections of speech and abandoned it. Thankfully he completed Sunless, his matchless cycle of six settings of beautiful but deeply melancholic poems by his friend and, for a time, flat-mate, Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov. Rarely has such utter hopelessness felt so deeply satisfying.

Une larme
Elena Kuschnerova, piano

The Marriage; scene 2
Vladimir Khrulev, baritone (Podkolesin)
Lyudmila Kolmakova, mezzo soprano (Fyokla Ivanovna)
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Khovanshchina; Act 2, conclusion
Aage Haugland, bass (Prince Ivan Khovansky)
Vladimir Popov, tenor (Prince Vasili Golitsyn)
Anatolij Kotscherga, baritone (Shaklovity)
Paata Burchuladze, baritone (Dosifei)
Marjana Lipovsek, alto (Marfa)
Peter Köves, baritone (Varsonofiev)
Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Sunless
Yevgeny Nesterenko, bass
Vladimir Krainev, piano.

04Meditating On History20170928

Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the operatic masterpiece Mussorgsky left unfinished; and his greatest song-cycle, Sunless.

Like Musical, Opera is a notoriously fluid art-form; new circumstances of performance may well require new musical solutions. Verdi's Don Carlo(s) is a case in point: it exists in four main versions (with a number of further variants), between which any new production has to choose. Mussorgsky had already demonstrated the malleability of the medium in his only completed opera, Boris Godunov, which exists in two substantially different versions, not to mention subsequent editions by Rimsky-Korsakov, Pavel Lamm, Dmitri Shostakovich and Karol Rathaus. There's a problem of a different order in determining the score of Mussorgsky's second major opera, Khovanshchina - The Khovansky Affair: the composer died before he completed it, so a definitive version is, by definition, an impossibility. As with Boris, Rimsky-Korsakov came to the rescue, in effect acting as his friend's musical executor and producing the version in which audiences would encounter the opera for years to come. Then Diaghilev got interested in mounting a production, but he disliked the Rimsky version and asked Stravinsky and Ravel to take a crack at it. Eventually Shostakovich came to the party, and it's his version that's usually performed today. At the other end of Mussorgsky's career, The Marriage, based on a comedy by Gogol, is also incomplete - but this time because Mussorgsky got bored with this rather dry experiment in matching music to the natural rhythms and inflections of speech and abandoned it. Thankfully he completed Sunless, his matchless cycle of six settings of beautiful but deeply melancholic poems by his friend and, for a time, flat-mate, Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov. Rarely has such utter hopelessness felt so deeply satisfying.

Une larme
Elena Kuschnerova, piano

The Marriage; scene 2
Vladimir Khrulev, baritone (Podkolesin)
Lyudmila Kolmakova, mezzo soprano (Fyokla Ivanovna)
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Khovanshchina; Act 2, conclusion
Aage Haugland, bass (Prince Ivan Khovansky)
Vladimir Popov, tenor (Prince Vasili Golitsyn)
Anatolij Kotscherga, baritone (Shaklovity)
Paata Burchuladze, baritone (Dosifei)
Marjana Lipovsek, alto (Marfa)
Peter Köves, baritone (Varsonofiev)
Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Sunless
Yevgeny Nesterenko, bass
Vladimir Krainev, piano.

04Meditating On History20170928

Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, the operatic masterpiece Mussorgsky left unfinished; and his greatest song-cycle, Sunless.

Like Musical, Opera is a notoriously fluid art-form; new circumstances of performance may well require new musical solutions. Verdi's Don Carlo(s) is a case in point: it exists in four main versions (with a number of further variants), between which any new production has to choose. Mussorgsky had already demonstrated the malleability of the medium in his only completed opera, Boris Godunov, which exists in two substantially different versions, not to mention subsequent editions by Rimsky-Korsakov, Pavel Lamm, Dmitri Shostakovich and Karol Rathaus. There's a problem of a different order in determining the score of Mussorgsky's second major opera, Khovanshchina - The Khovansky Affair: the composer died before he completed it, so a definitive version is, by definition, an impossibility. As with Boris, Rimsky-Korsakov came to the rescue, in effect acting as his friend's musical executor and producing the version in which audiences would encounter the opera for years to come. Then Diaghilev got interested in mounting a production, but he disliked the Rimsky version and asked Stravinsky and Ravel to take a crack at it. Eventually Shostakovich came to the party, and it's his version that's usually performed today. At the other end of Mussorgsky's career, The Marriage, based on a comedy by Gogol, is also incomplete - but this time because Mussorgsky got bored with this rather dry experiment in matching music to the natural rhythms and inflections of speech and abandoned it. Thankfully he completed Sunless, his matchless cycle of six settings of beautiful but deeply melancholic poems by his friend and, for a time, flat-mate, Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov. Rarely has such utter hopelessness felt so deeply satisfying.

Une larme
Elena Kuschnerova, piano

The Marriage; scene 2
Vladimir Khrulev, baritone (Podkolesin)
Lyudmila Kolmakova, mezzo soprano (Fyokla Ivanovna)
USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Khovanshchina; Act 2, conclusion
Aage Haugland, bass (Prince Ivan Khovansky)
Vladimir Popov, tenor (Prince Vasili Golitsyn)
Anatolij Kotscherga, baritone (Shaklovity)
Paata Burchuladze, baritone (Dosifei)
Marjana Lipovsek, alto (Marfa)
Peter Köves, baritone (Varsonofiev)
Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Sunless
Yevgeny Nesterenko, bass
Vladimir Krainev, piano.

05Twice-hatched Chicks; Mussorgsky Arranged20170929

Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, a pair of masterpieces refracted through the eyes of two very different composers: Songs and Dances of Death, as arranged almost 90 years after its composition by Mussorgsky's compatriot Dmitri Shostakovich; and one of the most frequently arranged and orchestrated works in the entire repertoire, Pictures from an Exhibition, in the famous version commissioned by the conductor Serge Koussevitsky from that master of orchestral colour Maurice Ravel.

Songs and Dances of Death (orch. Shostakovich)
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Pictures from an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.

05Twice-hatched Chicks; Mussorgsky Arranged20170929

Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, focusing on his songs.

This week Donald Macleod explores the music of Mussorgsky, with a particular focus on his songs. Today, a pair of masterpieces refracted through the eyes of two very different composers: Songs and Dances of Death, as arranged almost 90 years after its composition by Mussorgsky's compatriot Dmitri Shostakovich; and one of the most frequently arranged and orchestrated works in the entire repertoire, Pictures from an Exhibition, in the famous version commissioned by the conductor Serge Koussevitsky from that master of orchestral colour Maurice Ravel.

Songs and Dances of Death (orch. Shostakovich)
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Pictures from an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor.