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Mussorgsky: Songs

Songs and Dances of Death
Where are you, little star?
The Nursery
Videniye (The Vision)
Sorochintsy Fair: Gopak
Strekotun’ya beloboka (The magpie)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone) & Semyon Skigin (piano)

Modest Mussorgsky, drunkard and genius, may have been one of the most significant 19th century composers of opera, but he left frustratingly little evidence - the magnificent Boris Godunov and Khovanschina, of course, but still requiring all manner of editorial intervention before performance, alongside a host of fragmentary projects. Yet the character flaw in Mussorgsky that was the opera-lover’s loss proved to be the songlover’s gain. Working on the smaller canvasses offered by the medium of song, Mussorgsky produced copious finished works of music drama, and this set is an invaluable conspectus of that treasury.

To describe solo songs as music drama might seem perverse, but Mussorgsky’s songs were composed in a highly idiomatic style, in which the conventions of ‘pure’ music were always subject to his overriding concern for human and dramatic realism. They are, naturally, saturated with the dark and rough analysis of human nature that is familiar from the operas but also from the great novelists of the Russian tradition such as Dostoevsky, along with a relish of the absurd that one finds in Gogol and Pushkin.

Leiferkus and Skigin are masters of their native idiom, recorded in modern digital sound where most of the serious competitors are of an older vintage.

“Not since Boris Christoff have these canonical songs enjoyed such authoritative advocacy. Excellently recorded, with texts and translations online, this is a modern reference version.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

Brand New /sealed 4CD
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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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