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 creatingRead 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.
- 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 fairby Modest Mussorgsky
Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1874-1880; Russia
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Wonderful performance of a nearly-forgotten gem.February 22, 2014By 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
about timeJanuary 23, 2014By Richard E. (Flushing, NY)See All My Reviews"There hasn't been a decent recording of this opera in a long time (if ever). I bought it from a European source about two years ago and have enjoyed it. Sorochintsy Fair, written at about the same time as the tragic masterpiece Khovanshchina, is a light comic opera based on a story by Gogol. If it's the same one as the one I have the performance by this provincial Russian opera group is quite good, as is the sound. Since Mussorgsky wrote so little (he was an alcoholic and died at a fairly young age)every fan of this imperfect (but genius) composer should acquire it. It will be unfamiliar ro most people except for the Gopak, which has been arranged for instruments such as the violin or the piano and it's often played as an encore."Report Abuse