27 Sep 2018


From Music Alive, 8:15 pm on 27 September 2018

The Russian master of orchestration carries us off to a fairy tale world full of colourful, exotic adventures.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Xian Zhang, at its Great Classics Series concert, Auckland Town Hall, 27 September 2018.

'Scheherazade and the Sultan' by the Iranian painter Sani Ol Molk (1849-1856)

'Scheherazade and the Sultan' by the Iranian painter Sani Ol Molk (1849-1856) Photo: Public Domain

In 1888, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was hard at work finishing Borodin’s Prince Igor, which he’d rescued after that composer’s death.

The exotic music must have fired his imagination because he came up with the idea of composing an orchestral suite on the subject of the stories of The Thousand and One Nights.

At the top of the score of Scheherazade, the composer set out the bare bones of the music:

The Sultan Shahriar, who regards all women as deceitful, vows to take a virgin as his new wife each day, sleep with her, and then slay her the next morning. But the brilliant Scheherazade outwits him by spinning intriguing tales, making sure she left a cliffhanger at dawn, and would only finish the next night. After the thousand and one nights, she finally wins his love.

There are four movements:

I. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship
II. The Kalendar Prince
III. The Young Prince and The Young Princess
IV. Festival at Baghdad

Video courtesy of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and JXLive

Sound recorded by RNZ Concert in Auckland Town Hall, 27 September 2018
Producer: Tim Dodd; Engineer: Adrian Hollay

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