Tone Poem Tuesday

It’s not terribly surprising to learn that Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was one of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s early influences; after all, Rimsky-Korsakov was a gigantic name in Russian music in the late 19th century, second only to Tchaikovsky. Even in his maturity, when Rachmaninoff found his own sound in yearning melodies and backward-looking Romanticism, hints of Rimsky-Korsakov can be found, particularly in his orchestrations. Rimsky-Korsakov is one of the great orchestrators of all time, and his works would have been studied and their lessons learned by Rachmaninoff.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas are unfortunately neglected in the West, mainly because few singers want to learn Russian and it is simply out of vogue to perform operas in translation. Nevertheless, his operas are highly regarded by those who have been able to seek them out and hear them, and the operas have yielded a number of excerpts that have found life in the standard concert repertoire. This particular work is not one of those, though: it is a thorough rescoring for orchestra alone of the third act of his opera Mlada, which he then retitled Night on Mount Triglav.

This is the type of Russian Romanticism in which a young Sergei Rachmaninoff was steeped. It would leave its mark.

This entry was posted in music and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.