Russians on Russian Music, 1830-1880: An Anthology by Stuart Campbell

By Stuart Campbell

Tchaikovsky not just composed, he additionally wrote approximately song. This tremendous anthology of Russian writing on Russian tune positive factors the main influential critics of song in nineteenth-century Russia. They wrote at the first generations of Russian composers from Glinka to Musorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. the quantity unearths via modern Russian eyes how the principles of the highly renowned Russian classical repertory have been laid, delivering a brilliant photograph of the musical lifetime of the opera condominium and the live performance corridor from which this repertory sprang.

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Every grace-note here, the fall of every phrase are decidedly new in the art of music. By virtue of the novelty of the motives the accompaniment is like a kind of commentary on the voice. At first these motives may seem incomprehensible but subsequently, on attentive examination of the beauty of their design, they will win over everyone by their allure. Here, then in the ballet in Act IV and finally in Ratmir's aria in Act V (contralto with muted orchestra), the composer has demonstrated the greatest boldness, originality and profound understanding both in the melody and the accompaniments imitating the voice and in the whole course of the harmony.

In Freischutz he told an old fairy-tale through contemporary tunes; but in Oberon^ on the other hand, he tried to search for an ancient melodic expression and real ancient colourings for an old fairy-tale. In Oberon he is more truthful, loftier, more skilful, but on that account is not understood by casual listeners, and this immortal creation has not enjoyed positive success on the stage anywhere, while at the same time being the object of boundless astonishment to those who have studied and grasped its treasures.

It is already sufficiently clear that to form a correct judgement of Glinka's new opera it is absolutely essential to study it by attentive and repeated listening and to grasp the work in all its internal details. In this ocean of musical erudition every drop is a novel, ingenious or inspired feature. But then it is not easy to listen to an opera like this, I must confess! The constitution of the nerves is quickly worn out by the heavy labour of constantly straining all one's attention. Inattentiveness exposes one continually to the danger of pronouncing the most mistaken judgements.

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