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Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (b. 1931) is the last living survivor of a great Russian quartet of conductors consisting of Mravinsky, Kondrashin and Svetlanov. He was the highly distinguished principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 1981, an exciting period in the orchestra’s history, faithfully captured here.
The Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev recordings have never been issued before on CD, while the Mussorgsky was released on the now defunct BBC Radio Classics series over 15 years ago.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4 from the 1979 Leeds Music Festival is one of the conductor’s most inspired performances, rivalling Mravinsky in his celebrated accounts. Rozhdestvensky treats it as a broad tragedy of the highest order without sentimentalising it.
Rozhdestvensky’s championship of Mussorgsky produces a rarity – the version of A Night on a Bare Mountain used in the composer’s Sorochinsky Fair, which includes a chorus and a bass-baritone (David Wilson-Jones). This version, from the 1981 BBC Proms, is sung in English.
Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges Suite was given on a Far East tour in Kurashiki, Japan in 1981 and benefits from Rozhdestvensky’s long experience with ballet and, in this performance, his fiery impetus.
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
I. Andante sostenuto - Moderato con anima
II. Andantino in modo di canzone
III. Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato - Allegro
IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky: St. John's Night on Bald Mountain, "A Night on the Bare Mountain" (version for choir)
St. John's Night on Bald Mountain, "A Night on the Bare Mountain" (version for choir)
Sergey Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges Suite, Op. 33bis
I. The Clowns
II. The Magician and the Witch play cards
V. The Prince and Princess
VI. The Flight
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.