Anatoly Lyadov’s “The Enchanted Lake”: Painting a Fairy Tale Scene

The Enchanted Lake is a dreamy and fleeting 1908 tone poem by the Russian composer, Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914).

Subtitled “fairy tale scene,” the piece unfolds as a shimmering, gradually shifting mirage of impressionistic color. Divided strings undulate with the majesty of a vast, tranquil sea, while the flute, celesta, and harp suggest the sparkle of twinkling stars. At moments, we hear the influence of the magical, coloristic orchestration of Rimsky-Korsakov. The piece may have been inspired by a painting by Arseny Meshchersky. It inhabits a serene and mystical realm.

The composer described The Enchanted Lake poetically, writing,

How picturesque it is. How clear, the multitude of stars hovering over the mysteries of the deep. But above all, no entreaties and no complaints; only nature — cold, malevolent and fantastic as a fairy tale. One has to feel the change of the colors, the chiaroscuro, the incessantly changeable stillness and seeming immobility.

It was Anatoly Liadov who Sergei Diaghilev first approached in 1909 with the commission for the ballet, The Firebird. Liadov declined the offer, insisting that it would take him at least a year to complete the score. Unable to wait, Diaghilev approached the young Igor Stravinsky.

Here is Vassily Sinaisky’s 2001 recording with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra:

Recordings

  • Lyadov: The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62, Vassily Sinaisky, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Amazon

Featured Image: “The Mountain Lake” by Arseny Meshchersky

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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