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Naxos Musical Journey Compilation: Russian Fireworks
Mikhail IPPOLITOV-IVANOV (1859-1935)
Procession of the Sardar *

Anatoly LYADOV (1855-1914)
Eight Russian Folk-Songs: **
Religious Chant; Christmas Carol; Plaintive Song; Humorous Song;
Legend of the Birds; Cradle Song; Round Dance, Village-Dance Song.
Baba-Yaga ((1904) ***
The Enchanted Lake (1909) ***
Kikimora (1910) ***
Dmitry KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Comedian’s Galop (1940) **
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Gopak (from The Fair at Sorochintsy – (1874-80 unfinished) **
Dance of the Persian Slaves (from Khovanshchina – (1873 5th Act unfinished) **
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Dance of the Bayadères and Bridal Procession from Feramors ****
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by
Ricahrd Hayman *; Kenneth Jean ** ; Stephen Gunzenhauser *** and Michael Halász
With views of St Petersburg, Odessa, Yalta, Ukraine, Crimea and Uzbekistan
Aspect Ratio:1.33:1
Remastered in Dolby Digital and DTS Surround
NAXOS DVD DVDI 1027 [54 mins]

After being singularly unimpressed with the Italian and French Festivals in this Naxos ‘Musical Journeys’ series, I am delighted to report that this Russian Fireworks compilation is much more successful. True, there are odd sequences where there is a mismatch of images and music, or some unimaginative setting like people running down the Potemkin Steps (immortalised in the film, Battleship Potemkin) at Odessa for Kabalevsky’s Comedian’s Galop. On the whole, however, this DVD is a feast for the eye, the journey featuring some fascinating, lesser-known Russian locales often beautifully photographed in excellent colour. The notes for the music are non-existent save the list of titles as above. The Slovak Orchestra has four conductors here so one might safely assume that all the pieces are taken from the considerable Naxos/Marco Polo catalogues. The performances, although not top drawer, are at the least acceptable enough, and often quite spirited.

Highlights of the compilation include: beautiful 13th-17th century frescos in the 13th century Kremlin Cathedral at Suzdal, East of Moscow pictured over Lyadov’s Religious Chant; little children on their way to school (eight strapped together and to their carer) over Lyadov’s Round Dance; dawn over the mosques and minarets of Khiva on the Silk Road, Uzbekistan to Mussorgsky’s Dance of the Persian Slaves and pictures of wedding parties at Odessa over Rubinstein’s lyrically romantic ‘Bridal Procession’ from his Feramors. But the images that linger in the memory most are many exquisite winter scenes especially those that accompany Lyadov’s The Enchanted Lake - snowbound boats shrouded in dawn fog and mists shredding and lifting from an icy scene of river and forest at Valday Heights between Moscow and St Petersburg.

Beautifully shot views of lesser-known Russian locales – particularly those photographed in winter, viewed with very satisfactory performances of popular and less familiar Russian Romantic music.

Ian Lace

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