Conducted by Claus Peter Flor, the Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest (Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra) plays Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s Scheherazade, Op. 35, a symphonic suite composed in 1888. Recorded on Sunday, November 27th, 2011 at the main hall of De Doelen in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Op. 35
Based on One Thousand and One Nights (a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age, it is often known in English as the Arabian Nights), Scheherazade is one of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov’s best-known orchestral compositions.
1. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship (Largo e maestoso – Lento – Allegro non troppo – Tranquillo)
This movement is composed of various melodies and contains a general A B C A1 B C1 form. Each section is highly distinctive, but aspects of melodic figures also carry through and unite them into a movement.
Although similar in form to the classical symphony, the movement is more similar to the variety of motives used in one of Rimsky-Korsakov’s previous works Antar. Antar, however, used genuine Arabic melodies as opposed to Rimsky-Korsakov’s own ideas of an oriental flavor.
2. The Kalendar Prince (Lento – Andantino – Allegro molto – Vivace scherzando – Moderato assai – Allegro molto ed animation)
This movement follows a type of ternary theme and variation and is described as a fantastic narrative. The variations only change by virtue of the accompaniment, highlighting the piece’s “Rimsky-ness” in the sense of simple musical lines allowing for greater appreciation of the orchestral clarity and brightness.
Inside the general melodic line, a fast section highlights changes in both tonality and structure. of the fanfare motif, played by trombone and muted trumpet.
3. The Young Prince and The Young Princess (Andantino quasi allegretto – Pochissimo più mosso – Come prima – Pochissimo più animato)
This movement is also ternary and is considered the simplest movement in form and melodic content. The inner section is said to be based on the theme from Tamara, while the outer sections have song-like melodic content.
Ternary form, sometimes called song form, is a three-part musical form consisting of an opening section (A), a following section (B) and then a repetition of the first section (A). It is usually schematized as A-B-A.
The outer themes are related to the inner by tempo and common motif, and the whole movement is finished by a quick coda return to the inner motif, balancing it out nicely.
4. Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman. (Allegro molto – Lento – Vivo – Allegro non troppo e maestoso – Tempo come I)
The finale of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade ties in aspects of all the proceeding movements as well as adds some new ideas Including but not limited to: an introduction of both the beginning of the movement and the Vivace section based on Sultan Shakhriar’s theme, a repeat of the main Sheherazade violin theme, and a reiteration of the fanfare motif to portray the shipwreck.
Coherence is maintained by the ordered repetition of melodies and continues the impression of a symphonic suite, rather than separate movements. A final conflicting relationship of the subdominant minor Shakhriar theme to the tonic major cadence of the Scheherazade theme resolves in a fantastic, lyrical, and finally peaceful conclusion.
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Founded in 1918, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO; Dutch: Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest) is a Dutch symphony orchestra based in Rotterdam. Its primary venue is the concert hall De Doelen.
The RPhO is considered one of the Netherlands’ two principal orchestras of international standing, second to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. In addition to symphony concerts, the RPhO performs as the opera orchestra in productions at De Nederlandse Opera, as do other Dutch ensembles.
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