CD BAM 9724
notes | orchestra | mp3 sample

The Mighty Handful
  ("Moguchaya Kuchka")

the belair collection

In the middle of the 19th century Russian music, apart from folk music, was of little substance. The music emulated it's European contemporary, with the Moscow Conservatoire acting as the 'umpire' in deciding what was musically acceptable. Glinka, perhaps Russia's best known composer at the time, felt the need for a school of nationalist music and Dargomizhsky, another composer, was sympathetic to this idea. It was not, however, until five young composers, known as the 'Mighty Handful' - a phrase coined by the music critic Vladimir Stasov - got together and played, listened to and debated each other's music, that these ambitions were finally realized.

During this period and in spite of busy and varied careers, 'The Five' managed to redirect the entire course of Russian music. In the past it has been suggested that the academic, military, and government careers of this 'Handful' kept them in contact with European trends in music while they were developing a distinct 'Russian' style; embodying folk-tune elements and colourful instrumental effects.

The reputed leader of the five was Balakirev (1837-1910). A strict and uncompromising tutor, he laid the theoretical ground rules for the group. Cesar Cui (1835-1918), though not a first-rate composer, considered himself joint leader and group critic. Moussorgsky (1839-1881) was the black sheep of the group, but also its spiritual soul, and his music rates high amongst them. Borodin (1833-1887) was both a composer and a chemist with an international reputation, and although his musical output was small it contained several masterpieces.

Finally, it was the youngest of the group, Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) who explored colourful orchestration to the full. Although he was both a composer and naval officer he produced an amazing amount of compositions and orchestrations. Not only a very good musician, he was also a loyal friend. After the death of Mussorgsky and Borodin it was Rimsky who both completed and publicized their works. It is therefore appropriate that Borodin's Symphony No. 2 has been selected for this recording, as the score was edited by Rimsky after Borodin's death.

Alexander Borodin (1833 - 1887)

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
(1844 - 1908)

Symphony No. 2 in B Minor "The Bogatyrs"

Suite from the Opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan"


Scherzo Prestissimo
Finale Allegro



Introduction to Act One - Allegretto Alla Marcia
Introduction to Act Two - Maestoso
The Last Scene "Three Wonders" - Moderato


Total Time 51:50
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Free mp3 sample from track no. 7 Three Wonders

The New Russia Orchestra
Oleg Poltevsky, Conductor

DDD Digital Recording.
Moscow Radio Studio Five, 6/1997
&   1997 - 2006 Bel Air Music. Made in EC. All rights reserved.

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