Title - Modest Mussorgsky: Unorthodox Music
Artist - Claire Booth / Christopher Glynn
For those unaware, first came Percy Grainger: Folk Music, then Edvard Grieg: Lyric Music, and now Modest Mussorgsky: Unorthodox Music – a logical sequence in soprano Claire Booth’s and pianist Christopher Glynn’s growing AVIE discography, interspersing a selection of under-represented songs with solo piano works by this most individual and idiosyncratic of all Russian composers.
Claire and Chris approach Modest Mussorgsky: Unorthodox Music in the spirit of a storyteller, tracing an arc of life from innocence to experience that is arranged across a prologue and four “scenes” – Nursery, Youthful Years, Marriage and Loneliness – taking their cue from the colorful tableaux of the composer’s operas.
MODEST MUSSROGSKY (1839–1881)
1. The Billy Goat – A Society Tale (02:31)
2. Nanny and I (Memories of Childhood) (01:16) *
3. With Nanny (Nursery) (01:48)
4. In the Corner (Nursery) (01:39)
5. Nanny locks me in a dark cupboard (Memories of Childhood) (01:32) *
6. With the Doll (Nursery) (01:57)
7. Hobby Horse (Nursery) (03:24)
8.Porte-enseigne Polka (03:02) *
9. Desire (02:39)
10. Impromptu-passioné (02:34) *
11. Many have grown from my tears (01:41)
12. Hopak of the Merry Young Ukrainians (from the opera Sorochintsky Fair) (01:51) *
13. Night (04:16)
14. Hopak (03:12)
15. Oh, how your eyes look at me sometimes (02:37)
16. Oh, you drunken sot! (03:01)
17. Intermezzo in modo classico (03:34) *
18. Trepak (Songs and Dances of Death) (05:02)
19. Méditation (Album Leaf) (04:17) *
20. The leaves rustled softly (03:41)
21. Cum mortuis in lingua mortua (Pictures at an Exhibition) (02:40) *
22. Within four walls (Sunless) (01:33)
23. On the River (Sunless) (04:22)
24. Rêverie (05:12) *
Claire Booth, soprano
Christopher Glynn, piano (*solo: 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 17, 19, 21, 24)
Recorded in October 2020 at Pyrton, Oxfordshire (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13–16) and March 2021 at Menuhin Hall, Surrey (2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 17–24), this stunningly orchestrated new recording opens on the one track from its Prologue, the precisely culled The Billy Goat – A Society Tale and then we roll right into six from the Nursery phase: opening on the playful Nanny and I (Memories of Childhood), the playful beats of With Nanny, the stunning In the Corner, the sprightly Nanny locks me in a dark cupboard (Memories of Childhood), closing on the quietly passive With the Doll and the upbeat and perky Hobby Horse.
Next up are tales from the Youthful Years which opens on the vibrant Porte-enseigne Polka and the delicately sculptured Desire, and follows those up with the majestic Impromptu-passioné, the crystalline Many have grown from my tears, a fruitfully organic Hopak of the Merry Young Ukrainians (from the opera Sorochintsky Fair), closing on the gentle gustre of Night.
The next section we get introduced to is Marriage which itself opens on the wildly airy Hopak and the sweeping Oh, how your eyes look at me sometimes, the excellently titled pert poignancy of Oh, you drunken sot!, rounding out on the magnificently orchestrated Intermezzo in modo classico, closing on the quietly stoic caress of Trepak (Songs and Dances of Death).
The final phase is Loneliness which begins with the reflective Méditation (Album Leaf) and the pensively aware The leaves rustled softly, before bringing us the diaphanous musings found within Cum mortuis in lingua mortua (Pictures at an Exhibition), the sheer musical refinement of Within four walls (Sunless), the whole recording rounding out on the tacitly spirited On the River (Sunless), closing on the peaceful tranquility of Rêverie.
Individual numbers from the great song cycles – Youthful Years, Nursery, Sunless, and Songs and Dances of Death – are juxtaposed with works from Mussorgsky’s more unorthodox output, all delivered by Claire and Chris with disarming affect.
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