LyadovAt a recent piano teacher’s concert (or, rather, the concert given by his pupils) I discovered Anatoly Lyadov (Russian, 1855-1914) through one of his preludes. I have since gorged on his complete piano works (played by Marco Rapetti) and his complete orchestral works and have thus had the thrill of discovering somebody who, though not himself a front-rank musical figure, was nevertheless an accomplished composer and an artist of great influence, belonging to the so-called ‘Mighty Handful’ of composers (which included Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin) and a teacher of, among others, Prokofiev. In terms of style, Lyadov’s orchestral music is somewhere between Tchaikovsky, Dvorjak and Elgar. (Indeed, his symphonic poem Kikimora is strongly reminiscent of Dvorjak’s New World symphony.) Among other orchestral works, I discovered his tone poem, Baba-Yaga, and thought immediately of Paul Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The two pieces are roughly contemporaneous. Lyadov had his idea in 1894 but didn’t finish it until 1904. Dukas, meanwhile, wrote his piece in 1896-97. Lyadov influenced as much as he was influenced. Here is how James Leonard describes the piece: ‘The archetypal Russian witch, Baba-Yaga is a small, gnomish creature whom Mussorgsky had previously depicted in music in “The Hut on Hen’s Legs” from his Pictures at an Exhibition. Lyadov‘s “Picture from a Russian Folk-Tale” is set for large, late Romantic orchestra with numerous winds, brass, strings, a vast percussion section, and of course, the contrabassoon taking the witch’s part. A pseudo-spooky evocation of the supernatural à la Dukas‘ contemporaneous Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Lyadov‘s Baba-Yaga is clearly the basis of many of Hollywood’s witches, but especially the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz with its shrieks in the woodwinds, its glissandos in the trombones, its chromatic runs in the strings, and its xylophone and bass drum.’