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for two pianos
author of text

The genesis of Borodin’s Requiem was in 1877. The composer had written a little Polka, into which he had incorporated a children’s theme known in Russia as 'Tati-tati' but universally beloved as 'Chopsticks'. In the manner of Dargomyzhsky’s Slavonic Tarantella for Performing with Those Who Cannot Play, the famous tune becomes a simple ostinato part for the second pianist.

'Mighty Handful' members Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui and Liadov were so enchanted with this clever Polka that they elected to write pieces themselves, using the same, incessantly repeated underlying 'Chopsticks' theme. In turn, Borodin, intrigued by the emerging composite set, added two more short vignettes of his own: the Requiem heard here and a March. Borodin had a great reputation within his circle for his humorous improvisations at the piano, and Stasov conjectures that these two pieces are probably transcriptions capturing Borodin’s spontaneous flights of fancy.

No public performance has ever been traced of Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral arrangement of the Requiem. The score and parts, however, which reside in the Stokowski Collection at the University of Pennsylvania, were provided for the present recording. Stokowski’s larger-than-life, highly-coloured orchestral palette manages to combine with the utter simplicity of Borodin’s theme and accompaniment to produce a result which is convincing in its power and majesty.

In Borodin’s original piano version, the words 'Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis' are indicated for a solo tenor voice and a male chorus. In this first recording, they have been incorporated as an addition to Stokowski’s purely orchestral setting.

from notes by Philip Taylor © 2020


Borodin: Requiem & other works
SIGCD2094Download only


Track 1 on SIGCD2094 [5'26] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD2094 track 1

Recording date
10 April 1992
Recording venue
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Tim Handley
Recording engineer
Nicholas Parker
Hyperion usage
  1. Borodin: Requiem & other works (SIGCD2094)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: September 2020
    Download only
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