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ClassicsOnline Home » LIADOV: Baba Yaga / Enchanted Lake / Kikimora
Anatol Liadov belongs
to the younger generation of Russian nationalist composers, one of the first to
attend the musical Friday evenings of Belyayev that were to replace in
popularity the Tuesdays of Balakirev, self-appointed guide to Stasov's Mighty
Handful. He was born into a musical family. His grandfather had been a musician
and his father was for eighteen years, until 1868, conductor at the Maryinsky
Theatre in St. Petersburg, where his son was born in 1855.
been established in St. Petersburg and in Moscow by the Rubinstein brothers in
the 1860s, against the opposition of Stasov, who took exception to Anton
Rubinstein's description of his favourite musicians as amateurs, and feared the
regimentation that German-style conservatories might impose. Liadov's first
lessons were from his father, followed, in 1870, by admission to St. Petersburg
Conservatory, where he initially studied piano and violin. These interests were
soon to be replaced by lessons from Johannsen in counterpoint, an abiding
interest, and composition classes with Rimsky-Korsakov, from the second of
which he was expelled after unexcused absences. Composition classes were
resumed in 1878 and Liadov graduated with a setting of part of Schiller's Bride
of Messina as his graduation composition.
After completing his
studies, Liadov was employed at the Conservatory as a teacher of elementary
theory, later taking over classes in counterpoint. He resigned in 1905 at the
time of Rimsky-Korsakov's dismissal, after the student disturbances of that
year, with which Rimsky-Korsakov had expressed sympathy. He resumed his
position, as did other members of staff, when Rimsky-Korsakov was reinstated,
with Glazunov replacing Bernhard as director of the establishment.
Even in the 1870s
Liadov had made an impression on the Five, with whom his name was to be
associated. Mussorgsky described him as an original and Russian young talent,
and his collaboration with Borodin, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shcherbachov in a light-hearted
set of variations, Parafrazi, on a common-place theme, had delighted Liszt, who
used the work as a demonstration piece for his pupils.
At first Liadov had
received encouragement from Balakirev, emerging from a period of silence, but
still inspired with uncomfortable religious zeal. In the 1880s he became one of
the first to join Belyayev's group, serving as an adviser on the publications
that the latter paid for and sharing the responsibility for the concern with
Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov after Belyayev's death in 1904.
As a composer Liadov
was less hard-working than he might have been. It was his tendency to
procrastinate that was to win Stravinsky his chance with Dyagilev, when the
score commissioned for The Firebird was not finished in time, although
the work had already been advertised for performance in Paris. It was on that
occasion that he was asked by Dyagilev how the music was progressing, and
replied that things were going very well and that he had just bought some ruled
Liadov's music was to
be used by Dyagilev's company after the composer's death in 1914. In 1916
Massine choreographed Kikimora, which was performed first in San
Sebastian. This was to form part of a longer ballet, Contes russes, offered in
Paris in 1917 season. The part of Kikimora was created by Lydia
Sokolova. Baba-Yaga, completed in 1904, was to form part of Massine's ballet,
the story of the witch Baba-Yaga, who crunches up children's bones and flies
through the air, with her hut on bird's legs.
Opus 8, was written for piano in 1883 but orchestrated by the composer in 1902.
The Ballade subtitled About olden times (Prostarinu), was composed for piano in
1889 and arranged for orchestra in 1906.
The Enchanted Lake (Volshebnoye ozero), Opus 62, was completed in
1909, a magic creation, based on Russian legend, while the Mazurka, Opus 19,
described as A Village Scene by the Inn (Sel'skaya stsena u korchnoi), a self
explanatory sub-title, was the work of 1889, its origins clear enough.
Nénie, Opus 67
(Skoronaya pesn), Liadov's final symphonic poem, a lament written in the last
year of his life, marks something of an extension of harmonic idiom, while the
Polonaise, Opus 49, and the Polonaise, Opus 55, written in 1899 and 1902
respectively, are commemorative works, the first in memory of the poet Pushkin
on the centenary of his birth, and the second to mark the unveiling of a statue
to Anton Rubinstein.
Kikimora evokes one of
the ugliest of Russian demons, trouble-making wife of the Domovoi, the
house-spirit, to be propitiated only by washing pots and pans in fern-tea. The
piece was written in 1909, followed in 1912 by From the Apocalypse, Opus
66 (Iz Apoklipsisa).
and The Enchanted Lake contain music intended for an abortive opera, Zoryushka,
its subject old Slavonic legend. The programmatic appeal of these pieces and
Baba-Yaga and the strong rhythms of the dance-pieces explain easily enough the
attraction the music of Liadov has had for choreographers.
The American conductor
Stephen Gunzenhauser was educated in New York, continuing his studies at
Oberlin, at the Salzburg Mozarteum, at the New England Conservatory and at
Cologne State Conservatory. His period at the last of these was the result of a
Fulbright Scholarship, followed by an award from the West German Government and
a first prize in the conducting competition held in the Spanish town of
For NAXOS Gunzenhauser
recorded Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, Beethoven's Overtures, the Saint-Saëns
Organ Symphony, Orff's Carmina Burana and the symphonies of Borodin.
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LIADOV: Baba Yaga / Enchanted Lake / Kikimora