No one mastered the art of orchestration better than the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844−1908) wrote a well-known book on the theory of orchestration, and composed music with extraordinarily rich, well-balanced and confident use of sound. Aside from mastering his craft, he had additional, and perhaps more important, abilities, such as that of selecting sound colours, harmonies and melodies in order to describe a narrative, or to capture a character or a mood. His greatest success was the music to the story of Scheherazade from the collection of stories “One Thousand and One Nights”. This symphonic suite was composed and premiered in 1888 with the composer himself conducting, and remains his most acclaimed composition.
Scheherazade consists of four movements: The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, The Kalendar Prince, The Young Prince and The Young Princess, The Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman. The violent trombone theme, often associated with the evil sultan, is introduced already in the opening, and Scheherazade’s beautiful theme is played by a solo violin − an arabesque melody with oriental-inspired ornaments which coils itself around us, casting a spell on both the sultan and the listener. Even though the Orientalism of the 1800s might not feel relevant today, the music creates a vivid fantasy, sending us off on a flying carpet while evoking the timeless, universal world of the fairy tale.
(In photo: Vasily Petrenko, Photo: CF Wesenberg; Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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