This Russian Fireworks
instalment of the "Naxos Musical Journey" series focuses on the wide geographical and cultural diversity of a vast country, from winter forest scenes near St Petersburg to the holiday resort of Yalta on the Black Sea, complemented by music drawn from a range of Russian composers linking the musical history of their homeland.
The film opens with the Procession of the Sardar by Ippolitov-Ivanov with pictures of lakes and mountains in Uzbeksitan. Lyadov's charming Russian Folksongs begins east of Moscow in Suzdal, in the 13th-century cathedral. Rubinstein's Dance of the Bayaderes No. 2 takes us to Yalta, the lake resort where Chekov recovered from tuberculosis. A Galop by Kabalevsky underscores pedestrians running up and down the Potemkin steps in Odessa; while Mussorgsky accompanies scenes of the rich farm land round Kiev, Uzbekistan and oases on the silk-road to Samarkand. Lyadov's Baba Yaga is set in woods round St Petersburg, evoking the witch of Russian folk lore, and Kilimora, set in the same location, depicts a snowy landscape. The Enchanted Lake shows the Valday Heights, where the Volga rises. All these pieces are well played by the Slovak Philharmonic, following one another with very short breaks.
On the DVD: Russian Fireworks comes with travel notes as a guide to each location in the filming. There are also brief composer biographies, and trailers for more "Musical Journeys". The picture and sound quality leave nothing to be desired. --Adrian Edwards