Russian composers: Part II

Hello again!

Today we are back to Mother Russia to visit another great composer: Modest Mussorgsky. He was another one of The Five (the other I presented was Rimsky-Korsakov, remember?). He is most known for the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition and the piece for orchestra Night on the Bald Mountain. Both belong to my favourite classical pieces, and I hope you’ll understand why right away.

The latter was never performed during Mussorgsky’s life, with the better known version being an edition by Korsakov (him again, yes). Similar situations happened with both pieces, with Ravel (the guy of the Bolèro) making an orchestral version of Pictures and Konstantin Chernov a piano version of the Bald Mountain. As all 4 versions are amazing, I decided to post here all of them, so yes, this will be another enormous post 😛

I’m usually not very fond of piano solo compositions, but both the original Pictures by the hand of Evgeny Kissin (no introduction necessary, I hope) and this version of Bald Mountain by the amazing Boris Berezovsky are extraordinary.

Just another note: the megalomanic Emerson, Lake & Palmer did a rock version of the whole Pictures at an Exhibition live. You can check it out here (it is pretty good, actually)

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s the customary playlist to anyone patient enough to listen to all this haha!

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My passion for russian classical music

Well, as we’ve been bragging around, we intended to offer a very diverse blog, claim that I think we have succeeded in defending. However, there’s a great hole here, respectively in classical music. We hired David so that that hole could be covered, but he hasn’t come to it yet.

Thus, I will try to fill that hole 🙂

Although my musical library tends to cover heavy metal, hard rock, rock and almost every progressive rock that exists (and the sometimes associated fusion jazz), I have a great passion for late 19th century Russian composers, like Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Korsakov, Mussorgsky and the somehow similar British Holst. Today, I’m going to show you an amazing orchestral suite composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade!

Scheherazade is a central character in the book One Thousand and One Nights, where she is married to the Sultan, who weds virgins and beheads them after their wedding night, so that they can’t betray him (after being betrayed by his first wife). However, Scheherazade postpones the wedding consummation by telling her new husband stories for 1001 nights, until the time when he falls in love with her and spares her life.

I haven’t read the book, but I know several of the stories Scheherazade tells her husband, and probably so do you: “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp“, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor are the better known ones.

Ok, I hope I caught your attention. Now, let’s listen to the 4th movement of this suite, Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman, by the Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra on the Great Christmas Concert 2010 in Cankarjev dom.

This is my favourite movement, but if you want to listen to the whole 50 minutes, be my guest 😀