Modest Mussorgskij (1839–1881) A Night on the Bare Mountain
[pno] Duration: 12'
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The title itself is enough to make one feel queasy, and the work that Modest Musorgsky set to music in 1867 and that describes the infernal happenings of St. John’s Night turns into a genuine horror trip. Only later did the composer add a conciliatory epilogue. “Subterranean sounds of supernatural voices. – Appearance of the spirits of darkness, followed by that of Satan himself. – Glorification of Satan and celebration of the Black Mass. – The Sabbath Revels. – At the height of the orgies the bell of the village church, sounding in the distance, disperses the spirits of darkness. – Daybreak.” Obviously, Musorgsky and his prominent arranger Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, who added entire sections, pull out all the musical stops for this theme: a prevailingly wild tempo (“Allegro feroce”), chromaticism, chains of octaves, tremoli – everything that the pianist’s heart desires. The impact can only be heightened by the orchestral version, also arranged by Rimsky-Korsakov, and also available from Breitkopf & Härtel.