Symphonic suite „Scheherazade”, opus 35

For the wide audiences, however, the master of large-scale symphonic scores  with  brilliant  orchestration and fantastic imagery, occasionally employing oriental colour, is perhaps best known for his SYMPHONIC SUITE “SCHEHERAZADE”, written in  1888  under  the  impression  of the amous Araby Nights tales. It shines with particular brilliance in the Oriental line that appeared for the first time in Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila and subsequently pervaded the entire national music school of Russia as an integral part of its national musical tradition. Initially, Korsakov intended to supply each of the separate episodes with an appropriate designation – „The sea and Sinbad’s ship”, „The fantastic story of the Kalandar prince”, „The young prince and the young princess”, „Festival at Baghdad and the ship crashing on the rock with the Bronze Horseman”. But in the course of his work the composer abandoned descriptive detail,  leaving it to the imagination of the listeners to visualize the specific imagery of Araby Nights. The four contrasting movements, resembling a symphony cycle, are united by the two main subjects – of Scheherazade and Schahriar, with Scheherazade’s exquisite, vivid theme with oriental ornamentation (solo violin) pervading all the movements. The vibrant original music of the suite provoked various treatments and stage interpretations. Among the earliest stage performances was Michel Fokine’s choreographic production from 1910, with stage design and costumes created by Léon Bakst for the  performances of Sergei Dyagilev’s company Russian Ballet.

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