Opera lies at the heart of Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful idiom, but performances are few and far between; this realisation of his penultimate and grandest stage work is a very rare and special experience. Kitezh is known as ‘the Russian Parsifal’, which encapsulates its mystical flavour and steady unfolding of a legend of redemption. A largely Russian cast (headed by the stunning Svetlana Ignatovich) and production team works within a set that moves from opulent naturalistic scenery to some startling theatrical coups worthy of Rimsky’s underrated dramatic instincts.
Rimsky-Korsakov epitomises the fantastic side of the Russian soul. Regarding opera as „essentially the most enchanting and intoxicating of lies,“ he drew on his country’s rich folk heritage to create a fairy-tale world in which the fanciful and commonplace were fused through extravagant orchestral virtuosity and fervently Romantic vocal writing. This Châtelet revival of Le Coq d’Or brings to the stage once again the great Kabuki actor Ennosuke III’s striking staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera first mounted in co-production with the San Francisco Opera in 1984. Born into one of Japan’s most important Kabuki families in 1939, Ennosuke III is a master of his art, who has worked to give this traditional theatre form appeal for modern audiences. As an actor, director and producer his aim has been to bring back the energy and excitement of Edo-period Kabuki. High-tech special effects, dynamic lighting, stunning costumes and minimalist sets have drawn new fans to his ‘Super Kabuki’ shows. He worked on this sumptuous production of Le Coq d’Or with an all-Japanese creative team and the result had an Oriental beauty and fascination entirely appropriate to this satirical fantasy opera. Completed in 1907, Le Coq d’Or, based on Pushkin’s 1834 poem, was Rimsky-Korsakov’s last opera.
n these days of big boxes, DG really ought to gather together everything Markevitch did and issue it as a set. He was a genius, and his recordings with the Lamoureux Orchestra, especially, combine interpretive brilliance with a classic French instrumental style that no longer exists. They are irreplaceable, and the playing here is amazing. Rimsky-Korsakov’s music demands just the sort of diamond-like precision and clarity that was Markevitch’s stock in trade as a conductor. There are more raucous, more traditionally Russian versions of The Golden Cockerel Suite available (Järvi’s for example), but none that point up the music’s anticipations of Stravinsky so compellingly. Both here and in the May Night Overture, Rimsky-Korsakov becomes a prophetically modern master.
The Annecy Classic Festival has become a major player in the national and international cultural landscape. In residence at the 2013 Annecy Classic Festival, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic closes the festival and joins forces with its iconic conductor Yuri Temirkanov. Together with multi-gifted musician Denis Matsuev, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra invites us on a journey, whose secret lies in Rachmaninov’s famous Piano Concerto No.2 and the Symphonic Dances. Denis Matsuev, the «Siberian Bear» as they call him, interprets the Piano Concerto No.2 virtuously and passionately. Yuri Temirkanov takes us on a journey through One Thousand and One Nights with a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s lush Sheherazade, with its intoxicating scents and the glowing, oriental colours.
This disc offers works for violin and orchestra from Russian contemporaries and friends Rimsky-Korsakov and Taneyev. Described here as ‘Violin Concertos’ the first score is Rimsky-Korsakov’s Fantasy on Russian Themes based on old Russian folk-tunes. Taneyev is represented by his Suite de Concert a work that inhabits the world of old European dance forms from the baroque period.