Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Christmas Eve Suite (Noch' pered rozhdestvom), for orchestra (with optional chorus ad lib)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Rimsky-Korsakov wrote his opera Christmas Eve during the period 1894-1895, and it was premiered during the latter year. In 1903, he extracted this suite, which contains about a half-hour's worth of music from the opera. What is confusing to some listeners about the work is that it is often broken down in concert programs and on recordings into five, six, or as many as nine sections, with translations of the individual numbers that can vary widely. The lovely music in the "Introduction," first heard on the horn, sets the stage for the Romantic character of the score here. The lively and playful music from the "Games and Dances of the Stars" is charming, as is the "Round Dance," which reprises the theme from the opening. The "Czardas" is joyous and, as so often with Rimsky-Korsakov's works, brilliantly and colorfully orchestrated. The "Devil's Kolyada" is sinister, but ultimately its menace has an almost fairy tale-like lightness. The Polonaise is graceful and stately and the "Procession to Midnight Mass" is absolutely lovely and quite memorable, with the gently tolling bells deftly adding to the serene atmosphere at the quiet close. In the end, the music here is light and colorful, not as exotic as Shéhérazade or the Capriccio espagnol, but still with ethnic flavors and featuring Rimsky-Korsakov's usual brilliant scoring.


    1. Introduction: A late frosty evening in Dikanka
    2. The ethereal space, symphonic picture
    3. Devilish Kolyadka
    4. Polonaise
    5. Scene: Vacula's return to journey
    6. Dawn, musical picture
    7. Views of the village of Dikanka

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2007 BIS 1667
    2006 Chandos 10369
    2006 BIS 1577
    2006 Music & Arts 978
    2002 Brilliant 99934
    1998 Naxos 553789
    1998 Kontrapunkt 32261
    1997 Capriccio Records 10775
    1995 London 443464
    1993 ASV 772
    1993 ASV CDQS6116
    1992 Chandos 8327
    Arlecchino 72
    Brilliant 99934/4
    Naxos 35312