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Two Russian Operas (duets)


Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov
Prelude from Khovanschina

Arranger's Notes...

Mussorgsky was one of the most expert composers in capturing the sound and more importantly the effect of bells. He simply loved it.

The prelude to "Khovanschina" depicts dawn over the Moscva river. After a quiet introduction with bird sounds a beautiful melody is heard against the sound of the Kremlin bells. Shostakovitch loved this effect so much he suggested starting the bells two bars earlier so they can be heard on their own. Measures 37 and 38 include this and of course they may be omitted since they are not in the full score by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Bells play a very important part in "Boris Godanov". In the Coronation Scene, captured here, it is the sound of the Russian "Zvon", a native carillon, which is high-lighted, and later in the opera comes the unforgettable death bell as Boris dies.

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