- Scheherazade, symphonic suite for orchestra, Op. 35
The symphonic suite "Shéhérazade" is one of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular works because it is vivid in its exotic orchestral colors, evocative in its sinuous melodies, and stirring in its lavish depictions of subjects from the "Arabian Nights." Completed in 1888, the work is representative of the Orientalism that was favored by Russian composers, not least by Rimsky-Korsakov, who repeatedly turned to Eastern stories and imagery for inspiration. He wanted to create an impression of Shéhérazade's nightly tales without tying himself too literally to specific stories, so he didn't give these tone poems a specific program, just the suggestive titles that head each section: The Sea and Sinbad's Ship; The Kalender Prince; The Young Prince and the Young Princess; Festival at Baghdad - The Sea - The Shipwreck. Yet even without a narrative, the piece works as a musical tour de force because of its dramatic contrasts of mood, the spellbinding interplay of infectious melodies, and the dazzling instrumental exchanges that call for truly virtuosic playing. Peter Oundjian leads the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a highly energetic performance that is compelling from start to finish, and the hybrid SACD format captures the rich and vibrant sonorities with extraordinary fidelity and presence. This is not only an audiophile's delight, but it is a genuinely exciting performance that anyone can appreciate, whether on super audio equipment or a standard CD player.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rimsky-Korsakov: Sheherazade based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
A marvelous interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade This recording on the Chandos label is a wonderful example of the quality that this British label aspires to. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with Peter Oundjian and the fine musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, led by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow. The first movement of this well known piece demonstrates two things: The strength and directed force of the TSO’s horn sections, as well as the dynamic range that Mr. Oundjian feels free to explore in the piece. It also rather effectively shows off the abilities of Mr. Crow in putting forth Sheherazade’s theme in a way that just feels emotionally correct and engaging. In the second movement the oboe engages the ear and captures the attention of the listener just as a captivating story teller does, and the strings and horns do a good job in bringing to life the swells and tribulations to match what one might imaging Sheherazade is conveying to the Sultan. The third movement, which begins with gorgeous sweeping strings, leads into outstanding English horn and flute solo work – this movement is wonderfully performed from start to finish, both playful and moving, fetching and delightful. The fourth movement, of course, is a well orchestrated and fitting conclusion to the piece, and the TSO continues to excel here. It would have been a real treat to hear this in person. I should also note that the Super Audio CD format really does this CD justice, although it is perfectly delightful in “standard” CD audio play as well. The liner notes, while a bit sparse regarding the musical material, do provide some useful background information about Mr. Oundjian and the TSO as well. This is wonderful music, well performed and highly recommended!