“Night on Bald Mountain” depicts a witches’ sabbath on St. John’s Day, the night between 23 and 24 June. Its sections present the infernal noise of ghostly voices, the chattering and quarrelling of witches, the appearance of ghosts, the dance of witches and demons, the appearance of Satan, the adoration and Black Mass, and finally the pealing bells of the village church, announcing the break of day and thus the end of the witches’ sabbath.
Whether intentionally or not, Mussorgsky actually finished the work on the eve of St. John’s Day (23 June 1867), after spending twelve days on its composition.
Technically speaking, Joachim Linckelmann’s exciting version for wind quintet is the arrangement of an arrangement, as Mussorgsky’s symphonic poem is almost invariably heard in the familiar version by Rimsky-Korsakov.
•Score and five parts
•Moderate level of difficulty