This disc marks the beginning of an new recording relationship between Chandos Records and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Conducting this performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever popular symphonic suite Sheherazade is Peter Oundjian, who this season celebrates his tenth year as Music Director of the Orchestra. After a recent performance of the work, the Toronto Star praised Oundjian and the ‘remarkably polished’ TSO for their ‘élan and dynamic punch’.
Many composers have drawn inspiration from the collection of folklore known as the Arabian Nights but none has captured the imagination so vividly as Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov in Sheherazade, composed in 1888. In the story, Sheherazade escapes the murderous intent of her husband, the Sultan Schariar, by entertaining him with fascinating tales every evening for 1001 nights. Rimsky-Korsakov’s four movements allude to individual episodes and images from the stories in dazzling orchestral colour.
The suite opens with a stern and strident brass theme representing the bloodthirsty Sultan. A winding melody for solo violin that returns throughout the work represents the answering voice of Sheherazade. The kaleidoscopic second movement has the character of a scherzo while the third is tender and lyrical. The finale is a boisterous and exuberant carnival, calmed by the return of Sheherazade’s theme which brings the work to a serene conclusion.