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Claudio Abbado Conducts Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky, Claudio Abbado, Richard Hickox
Claudio Abbado Conducts Mussorgsky
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1


CD Details


CD Reviews

Mussorgsky's incredible early choral works
Christopher McKoy | La Canada Flintridge, CA United States | 09/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yes, the original version of "Night on Bald Mountain" performed on this CD is much better than the Rimsky version. It's ferocious and almost terrifying at times. But it is Abbado's recordings of Mussorgsky's early choral works that make this CD such a gem. I have never been able to understand why these brilliant works have not achieved wider currency. Outside of Abbado, very few conductors have recorded these pieces (a Valeri Polyansky CD on Chandos Records has a couple of them and Abbado recorded all of them again for Deutsche Grammophon a few years ago but this CD is sadly not available in the U.S.). If you are captivated--as I am--by the choral pieces from Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, then you will surely enjoy Mussorgsky's early choral works. The choral pieces on this CD, though written by a young Mussorgsky, are no less inspired than those from his later operas. "Joshua" and the "Chorus of Priestesses" are from Mussorgsky's first opera Salammbo, which he left unfinished after completing only one act (Salammbo was recorded about 20 years ago in Italy for CBS Records but this recording has unfortunately never been transferred to CD). "The Destruction of Sennacherib" and "Oedipus in Athens" are independent choral pieces, both of which are quite striking and contain moments of great depth. To be sure, there is little of Mussorgsky's more 'advanced' harmony in these pieces, of the sort employed in the song-cycle Sunless, for instance. But it scarcely matters! These pieces stand on their own. The "Destruction Of Sennacherib" contains a central section that is supposed to depict the Angel of Death, which in my view is one of the most arresting and haunting passages in all of Russian--or Western--choral music. I should also note that the Prelude and Galitsin's Journey from Khovanshchina live up to the quality of Abbado's live recording of the complete Khovanshchina on Deutsche Grammophon. (I have to agree with the other reviewer that Abbado is the greatest conductor of Mussorgsky.) I would frankly recommend all of Abbado's Mussorgsky recordings, but especially his Khovanshchina. If you don't want to get the entire opera, try the Sony CD with Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, which contains some further excerpts from Khovanshchina not included on the CD under review here. Anatoly Kotcherga's singing on Shaklovity's aria is profoundly moving."
Infinitely surperior version of "Night on Bald Mountain"
Aaron Humphrey | Alamosa, CO United States | 05/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A superb disc throughout, yet the original version of "Night on Bald Mountain" is what sets it apart. After listening to this rarity I was shocked at the liberties Rimsky-Korsakov took in rewriting it to the more "listener friendly" version most of us are so familiar with. They're two completely different pieces; the original sounding almost as if it could be from the 20th century, while the altered piece retaining a definite romantic sound. I would venture to say that, in its original form, it may well have been inspiration for Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring".The other works are certainly worth a listening as well. Unfortunately, however, most of them are Rimsky-Korsakov versions. It would have been preferable to have all original pieces, but I'll take what I can get."
Buy it for the original 'Night'
John | Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | 06/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you've heard Mussorgsky's 'Night on Bald Mountain' before chances are that it was the Rimsky-Korsakov version, which is much more familiar to the world (the introduction is used in countless commercials, movies, TV shows etc. and it was used in a truncated form in Disney's original Fantasia). While Rimsky's version is wonderful and I enjoy it very much, the original surpasses it in both originality and excitement. This piece was radically ahead of its time, so it's no wonder Rimsky toned it down when he re-orchestrated it and rewrote certain parts- he, like most people of the time, probably didn't understand it. Rimsky managed to retain the spookiness of the piece, but what his version lacks is the original's percussive nature and outright savagery. The conclusion of the original is much more exciting than Rimsky's 'morning breaking with church bells'- it represents the orgy of the pagan spirits and witches with much more vividness, and has more of a climax. If you have a recording of the Rimsky version I suggest this strongly, and if you have neither version I suggest it even more.Besides 'Night' this recording features a very good selection of other Mussorgsky works (most of which are Rimsky versions, though). The 'Chorus of the People in the Temple' from 'Oedipus in Athens' is one of my favorites. Abbado, as usual, is marvelous as are the LSO and Chorus. I'd recommend this CD for the original 'Night' if nothing else."