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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > "Russian Easter" Overture - Rimsky-Korsakov


"Russian Easter" Overture

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
(1844-1908)


The "Russian Easter" Overture, based upon themes from the Russian Church service, was written in 1886. The themes are from the Sixty-seventh Psalm and the Resurrection scene in St. Mark’s Gospel, closing with the exultant Resurrexit theme. "’Resurrexit,’ sing the chorus of angels in heaven to the sound of the archangels’ trumpets and the fluttering of the wings of the seraphim; ‘ Resurrexit’ sing the priests in the temples in the midst of a cloud of incense, by the light of innumerable candles, to the chimes of triumphant bells." The first theme of the overture is ecclesiastical, given out by strings and clarinets, and then developed in full orchestra. The second theme, a quiet melody, is sung by violins and violas with accompaniment of woodwinds and harps over a pizzicato bass. After some stately passage work, through which the notes of the trumpets are heard, the second theme returns in the oboe, clarinet and bassoon. A recitative passage in trombones, with accompaniment by the cellos and double bass, is followed by a repetition of the first theme. After the elaboration of this material a majestic Coda brings the work to an impressive close, in consonance with the exultant character of the extracts from the composer’s program cited above.





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