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Mussorgsky: Sorochintsi Fair / Kuklin, Zalizniak, Brazhnik

Mussorgsky / Brazhnik
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94865   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
Conductor:  Evgeny Brazhnik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera Theatre Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Known for its fair which was held five times a year under the Russian Empire, the small village of Velyki Sorochintsi -- located in Central Ukraine, south east of Kiev -- was made famous by Nikolai Gogol's opening story, Sorochintsi Fair, in his folk-tale collection Evenings on a Farm near Dinkanka. In 1874 the great innovator of Russian music, Modest Mussorgsky, set to work on fashioning a comic opera from this material. Composition proved rather haphazard, however, and by the time of Mussorgsky's death only about half of the work was drafted or complete in piano-vocal score form.

What we have here is leading Soviet composer Vissarion Shebalin's finished version, generally considered to be the best of the bunch. In creating
Read more original music based on Mussorgsky's sketches and even portions for which there was no drafting at all, Shebalin was able to adopt the figurative style of Mussorgsky's speech so that the score appears absolutely seamless, without any clash of idioms. The work abounds in folk melodies that its original author attempted to fit with the speech patterns of the Ukrainian language as part of his quest for the 'truthfulness in art'. Two portions of the opera have pursued an independent existence in concert halls: the Act 1 introduction and the dynamic Hopak. Also featured is the choral version of what we've come to know as St John's Night on the Bald Mountain, an intermezzo that represents Cherevik's fevered dream of a Black Sabbath celebrated by the Devil and the sinister demon Chernobog.

Recorded in 1996, this release features an all-Russian cast deftly backed by the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera Orchestra. The performances are all more than up to scratch, and Evgeny Brazhnik -- one of Russia's most acclaimed opera conductors -- guides the music with ease and panache. A must-have for the Mussorgsky-phile.

Other information:
- Recorded June & July 1996.
- The opera is the most "folkloristic" of Mussorgsky's operas, in the line of the nationalistic movement of the famous "Group of Five" of which Mussorgsky was a prominent member. The only CD issue of this opera available!
- Mussorgsky wrote the Sorochintsi Fair as a comic opera, based on the story that Gogol (who was born in Sorochintsi) wrote about the village and its annual Fair, a fantastic tale full of bizarre personages and events, Russian comedy drenched in vodka.
- All-Russian forces make the performance of this opera irresistible, a real discovery!
- Contains detailed notes on the opera and its history. Read less

Works on This Recording

Sorochintsy fair by Modest Mussorgsky
Conductor:  Evgeny Brazhnik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874-1880; Russia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  5 Customer Reviews )
 A Real Find February 9, 2016 By william n. (houston, TX) See All My Reviews "A beautiful work, well performed." Report Abuse
 A Real Treat March 16, 2014 By D. McArthur (Gretna, LA) See All My Reviews "Had Mussorgsky lived we may have had a major comic opera. As it is we can only be grateful to those who have provided us with a performing edition of the remaining material. The sound is good and the performance is good. Alas, there is no libretto. However, with a little diligence you can find more extensive explanations of the story than is available in the provided booklet. This together with the track listing will give you a pretty good idea of the action. The music is delightful, a real treat, enjoy if you love Mussorgsky!!!" Report Abuse
 well worth getting to know March 11, 2014 By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA) See All My Reviews "In the days of Melodiya/Angel and Melodiya/Columbia LPs, (late 60s through the 70s) a slightly different version of this opera was available in slick over-miked sound. This performance in very good sound with idiomatic voices gives us the standard Shebalin performing edition. It is delightful and a fine addition to one's collection. Thank you Brilliant Classics. The listener will certainly recognize Mussorgsky here, and even a hint of Stravinsky. Enjoy!" Report Abuse
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