The Mighty Five

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The nationalist impulse of the 19th century sparked the creative imagination of five key Russian composers: Alexander Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky and Mily Balakirev. Known as the Mighty Five, these men sought to create a distinctly Russian form of music. Instead of looking outward to the styles taught in Western European conservatories, they looked inward to the folk songs, dances and church music that were woven into the fabric of Russian cultural life.

On this episode of the Great Russian Piano Tradition, host David Dubal explores the way the Mighty Five brought a Russian character to their piano compositions. The program includes Balakirev's finger-busting "Islamey," a concerto by Rimsky-Korsakov, and comparative performances of Moussorgsky's masterpiece, "The Great Gate of Kiev."

Program playlist:

Alexander Borodin: Scherzo in A flat
Vladimir Ashkenazy

Mily Balakirev: Piano Sonata in B flat minor: Andantino L'istesso tempo
Earl Wild
Ivory Classics

Anton Arensky: Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 2: Scherzo-Finale: Allegro molto
Stephen Coombs

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: V, Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
Shura Cherkasky
BBC Legends

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: V, Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
Evgeny Kissin
RCA Victor

Sergie Lyapunov: Transcendental Etude Op. 11, No. 2 in D sharp minor "Ride of the Phantoms"
Louis Kentner

Mikhail Glinka (arr. Mily Balakirev): The Lark
Evgeny Kissin
RCA Victor

Mily Balakirev: Islamey - Fantasie orientale
Vladimir Horowitz
RCA Victor

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor, Op. 30: Allegro
Sviatoslav Richter

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: The Great Gate at Kiev
Vladimir Horowitz
BMG Classics