Rimsky-Korsakov: Suites from The Snow Maiden; The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, etc. – Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev
Between 1860 and 1870, a group of composers got together in St Petersburg under the leadership of Mily Balakirev. The ‘Mighty Five’, as they came to be known, aimed to create an independent, distinctly Russian musical language. Glinka was a major influence on the group, which consisted of amateur composers, with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov the only member who was professionally active in music. Rimsky-Korsakov was a dazzling orchestrator, constantly producing deliciously ear-tickling sonorities. He also had a gift for melody as the orchestral Suite from his opera The Snow Maiden supremely demonstrates. Among the colourful movements are the ‘Introduction’, ‘Dance of the Birds’, and ‘Cortège and Dance of the Clowns’, which combine the beautiful and the grotesque, the magical and the prosaic, the sophisticated and the naive. The Suites from Mlada and The Legend of Invisible City of Kitezh are hardly less colourful, mixing the dramatic with the exotic as if by a magic typical of the composer. Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra bring out all these elements with spell-binding, red-blooded immediacy.