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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: 1 
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

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

Sound Samples

Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Introduction
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act I: The Fair Scene
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act I: The Gypsy's Appearance
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act I: Scene of Cherevik and Godfather
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act I: Scene of Cherevik and Khivrya
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act I: Grits'ko's Meditation and Finale
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Scene of Cherevik and Khivrya
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Khivrya Alone
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Khivrya's Song: Scene with the Priest's Son
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Guests Are Coming
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Cherevik's Song with Guests
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act II: Godfather's Tale and Finale
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act III: Cherevik and Godfather with Lads, then Gypsy, Grits'ko
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act III: Lad's Dreaming Vision
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act III: Parasya's Meditation
Sorochinskaya yarmarka (Sorochintsi Fair) (completed by V. Shebalin): Act III: Final Hopak

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 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 S E T. (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
 Wonderful performance of a nearly-forgotten gem. February 22, 2014 By L. Marsden (Mariposa, CA) See All My Reviews "Three Acts, running about 100 minutes. I have this recording in its initial 1998 release, on the URAL label, manufactured in Ekaterinburg. The 1996 recorded performance is generally quite good and the performances are all excellent - especially when one keeps in mind that this is a regional company - but a fine one at that. That said, my hat is off to Brilliant for making it more widely available. The comic opera "Sorochintsy Fair" is really a fantastically fun and polar-opposite counterpart to the Mussorgsky of Boris Godunov. As with so much of his work, this was left in a mess of a state at Mussorgsky's death and required a great deal of restoration/completion simply to make it performable - a great many hands took a shot at working it into a completed state over the period of a good six decades. Small sidebar: when Rimsky set about to complete the orchestral version of "A Night on Bald Mountain," he generally adapted THIS choral version which Mussorgsky had adapted for inclusion in Sorochintsy Fair. As I reviewed it (in part) elsewhere a few years ago: "For anyone not familiar with "THE" completion of Mussorgsky's "The Fair at Sorochyntsi", this is the 1930 completion by Shebalin, generally considered to be the best of the (small) bunch. While certainly it's no "Boris" - this is a must-have for the Mussorgsky-phile. The second act includes the orchestral/choral version of what we've come to know as "St. John's Night on the Bald Mountain" and the performances are all more than up to snuff. Recorded sound is excellent; I'm very happy to have finally tracked down this rarity for inclusion in my collection."" Report Abuse
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