Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35 - Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35 - Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain

This is a vividly recorded and characterful account of Rimsky-Korsakov’s well-loved “oriental” suite from 1888, Scheherazade. From the start, Pappano directs a riveting drama, with baleful brass depicting the vengeful Sultan, suitably contrasted with the beguiling violin solo representing his new bride, Scheherazade herself. From the ardent lovers in “The Young Prince and Princess” to the “Shipwreck” of the final movement, Pappano and his orchestra present a compelling account that makes clear why, at the end, there is such a sweet conciliation between the Sultan and his bride. Most unusual, though, is the coupling of two “original” versions of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain—both different from Rimsky-Korsakov’s more usually performed posthumous arrangement. The 1867 version with its full-on fortissimo start and rambunctious, unpredictable style is trumped by the even more eerie 1880 version involving a full chorus plus children’s chorus and bass soloist. Both have been previously recorded by Claudio Abbado, but Pappano has the advantage of more thoroughly prepared and confident choruses, and a closer, more focused recording which better reveals Mussorgsky’s richly detailed orchestration.

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