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FULL Songs and Dances of Death (Mussorgsky) Bratislava 2016 Sergej Tolstov

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Information on the Performance
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  • Date Published: 2016  
  • Format: Streaming
  • Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
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Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
The Rock, a symphonic poem
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839–1881)
Songs and Dances of Death

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Symphony no. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Songs and Dances of Death (Russian: Песни и пляски смерти, Pesni i plyaski smerti) is a song cycle for voice (usually bass or bass-baritone) and piano by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, written in the mid-1870s, to poems by Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov, a relative of the composer.

Each song deals with death in a poetic manner although the depictions are realistic in that they reflect experiences not uncommon in 19th century Russia: child death, death in youth, drunken misadventure and war.

The song cycle is considered Mussorgsky’s masterpiece in the genre.

Songs and Dances of Death consists of four individual songs, as follows:

1. Lullaby (Колыбельная) (14 April 1875) (in F-sharp minor–A minor)

A mother cradles her sick infant, who grows more feverish. Death appears, disguised as a babysitter, and rocks the infant to eternal sleep.
2. Serenade (Серенада) (11 May 1875) (in E minor–E-flat minor)

The figure of Death waits outside the window of a dying woman, in the manner of a wooing lover.
3. Trepak (Трепак) (17 February 1875) (in D minor)

A drunken peasant stumbles outside into the snow and becomes caught in a blizzard. The figure of Death invites him to dance a folk-dance called the Trepak. As he freezes to death, he dreams of summer fields and doves.
4. The Field Marshal (Полководец) (5 June 1877) (in E-flat minor–D minor)

The figure of Death is depicted as an officer marshaling, illuminated by the moon, the dead troops of both armies after a dreadful and bloody battle. She tells them: in life you were enemies but now you are comrades, because you’re all dead, and I am your commanding officer. She assures them that although the living will forget about them, she will remember them, and will harden the earth above them so that they cannot be resurrected.

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