Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov Suite; Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh Suite; Fairy Tale, Op. 29; Fantasia on Serbian Themes, Op. 6

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COMPOSERS: Rimsky-Korsakov
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: The Maid of Pskov Suite; Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh Suite; Fairy Tale, Op. 29; Fantasia on Serbian Themes, Op. 6
PERFORMER: Moscow SO/Igor Golovchin
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553513
Although stage works dominated Rimsky-Korsakov’s output, of his 15 operas only The Golden Cockerel is staged with any regularity. The name of Rimsky is kept alive these days not by his operas but by the exotic Sheherazade and a couple of pieces often presented as extended orchestral lollipops, the Russian Easter Festival Overture and Capriccio espagnol. The bulk of this disc affords a glimpse of what Rimsky’s operatic writing consisted of in the shape of orchestral numbers culled from The Maid of Pskov and Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh. Unfortunately, they do not make the best possible case for the revival of those works. While frequently startlingly original and arresting in his use of orchestral colour, Rimsky also wrote great tracts of music that seem to do nothing at all: this disc contains much of it. The bouncing ‘Wedding Procession’ from Legend is vintage Rimsky, but it stands out here as a peak on what is a rather repetitive, featureless plateau. Certainly there are pieces by Rimsky that deserve wider currency – the Second Symphony and the suites from Christmas Eve and The Snow Maiden spring to mind – but this disc will win few converts to his cause. Christopher Wood

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