Anatoly Liadov: The Enchanted Lake


First performed in 1909 in St Petersburg, Anatoly Liadov’s serene orchestral work The Enchanted Lake is one of the composer’s most fondly-remembered works. Liadov himself really liked this work, commenting that:


“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 colours, the chiaroscuro, the incessantly changeable stillness and seeming immobility.”


The Enchanted Lake is a marvel of mystical serenity, with tranquil atmospheres dominating the whole work. Liadov works hard to offer the listener this kind of orchestra experience, with the final product amounting in a really magical orchestral tale. 


The Music

The Enchanted Lake is like a musical mood painting. Rather than telling a story, the music takes you on a different kind of journey. From the gentle opening with stirring strings perhaps representing the movement of the lake, the mystical serenity shines through. Accentuation from the winds and harp add to the mysterious atmosphere, whilst also offering sparkle to the shimmering strings.

Liadov’s use of the celesta and harp in particular adds to the overall picture he is painting. The flourishes of notes, paired with their unique timbre merges with the rest of the orchestra to create such a magical sound. The shifting of tonality also adds to the mystery, as the music doesn’t stay in the same key for very long. 

Throughout the music is enchanting, grabbing your attention and wonder. The music harks back to traditional fairy tales, with the gentle glitter in the music shining through in many different ways. The quiet end to The Enchanted Lake sees fluctuating strings sit delicately on top of a deep pedal from the lower strings. 


Final Thoughts

Anatoly Liadov’s The Enchanted Lake is a short orchestral work that fizzes with magical orchestrations, timbres and textures. Full of serenity and calmness, The Enchanted Lake is the perfect work to relax to.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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