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Scheherezade Op 35 (Abridged for chamber ensemble) Rimsky-Korsakov Help Opus Details
For feedback and questions, please contact Victor Gomersall.
Scheherazade was a princess in the Tales of Arabian Nights, who told endless stories to the caliph in order to delay her execution. The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, one every night, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.

Rimsky-Korsakoff, like many of his Russian contemporary composers, had an enormous attraction to the islamic culture of neighbouring countries, as an inspiration to write orientalist exotic music with very lush orchestrations. The different episodes conjure up different moods and pictures. However, Rimsky-Korsakov did not intend the pieces to tell specific stories.

The dramatic opening seems to depict the grim, cruel Sultan. It employs tutti in octaves, but the sound is dominated by the bass instruments, particularly the brass. The 2nd theme makes an enormous contrast, a light fluttering tune high up on a solo violin, accompanied by the harp. This surely depict Scheherazade herself. The 3rd theme on first violins seems to surge higher and higher with the waves, with huge splashes on pizzicato strings. The weather seems to be calming down as the 4th theme on woodwinds appears. Then the calm after the storm is expressed by this 5th theme played by the flutes.
Category: Suite Orchestra Romantic Period
Time Signature 4 /4 Key Signature   E Minor

1    Scheherezade Op 35 (Abridged for chamber ensemble)
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