|VVCD - 00061
Scheherezade, Symphonic Suite.
Three Wonders from the opera Tale of Tsar Saltan
Tchaikovsky Symphony orchestra
Recorded: May 13 2003 at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire
In the second half of the 1880th Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov interrupted
his work on operas for a short pause. It was then that Capriccio
Espagnol and Scheherezade were written. The symphonic masterpieces
appeared one after another respectively in 1887 and 1888.
Both Capriccio Espagnol and Scheherezade were destined to live a
long and happy life on the concert stage. The main explanation for
the success was a bright picturesque melodious material of the music
but even more important – a natural and exciting manner in which
it was developed. Rimsky-Korsakov was a poet of the orchestra. So
great was his mastery and ingenuity in combining and contrasting
colours and timbers that this in itself was a phenomenon of art.
«In Rimsky-Korsakov’s scores … if the music depicts a snowstorm
then you feel as if snowflakes are dancing breaking away from the
violins’ strings. If the sun is rising then all the instruments
dazzle you with the bright-red light. And if it’s water then you
hear in the orchestra the waves running and breaking into splashes».
We shall venture to continue the words by Sergei Rachmaninov. A
stormy sea in which Sinbad’s ship is wrecked (Scheherezade , the
forth movement, the stroke of tom-tom); sweet words by Scheherezade
(violin solo) – these and other musical images sound like trying
to overcome the frontiers of music to become a visual phenomenon.
Both Capriccio Espagnol and Scheherezade are build up as suites,
that’s what these two works have in common. Capriccio is actually
a sequence of dances. The musical material of the first movement
reappears in the third and fifth movements and it brings some features
of rondo into the whole structure. Scheherezade on the other hand
is closer to the genre of sonata. Three out of four movements are
sonata-like. The general plan of the composition is also typical
for sonatas: the last movement summarizes the material of the whole
work. And, what is most important, the whole concept of the music
is gradually built up out of relatively few themes.
In the first edition of Scheherezade Rimsky-Korsakov gave some descriptive
titles to every movement of the composition. By his own words, he
was guided by the programme of the music with pictures from the
Thousand and One Arabian Nights, like «The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship»,
«The Story of the Prince-Kalandar», «The Young Prince and Princess»,
«»Festival in Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff
Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman». However later on the composer
annulled the titles. He also warned against excessive search of
direct connections between leit-motifs and the same repeating poetical
ideas. «Appearing every time in a different light the same motifs
and themes every time correspond to different images, actions and
pictures», he said.
Three Wonders is a well-known symphonic picture. It’s an introduction
to the last, 6th picture of the opera Tale of Tsar Saltan. The opera
was written in 1899 – 1900 and first staged in the Savva Mamontov’s
Russian Private Opera in 1900. Musical themes in the opera relate
to a fairy city of Ledenets and appear each in a proper moment of
the opera. Strictly speaking there are four wonders, not three:
a squirrel sitting under a fir-tree, cracking golden nuts with kernels
of pure emeralds and singing song; thirty three knights rising from
the waves led by old Uncle Chernomor; a Swan-Princess; and the City
of Ledenets. It is remarkable that Rimsky-Korsakov’s wonders are
purely Russian. The theme of the squirrel for example is borrowed
from the folk song In the Garden, while the theme of the Swan Princess
is taken from the folk song A Duck in the Sea.
Vladimir Fedoseev was borh in Leningrad and studied
in Moscow at the Gnesins Academy of Music and then did postgraduate
studies at Moscow Conservatoire with Professor Leo Ginzburg. In
1971 he was invited by Evgeny Mravinsky to guest conduct the Leningrad
Philarmonic Orchestra. The great success of the concert helped to
launch his conducting career. Since 1974 Vladimir Fedoseev has been
working as the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Tchaikovsky
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra which is Russia’s leading symphony
orchestra. With this orchestra maestro Fedoseev made many successful
tours of European countries, USA, South America, Japan and Australia.
Vladimir Fedoseev collaborates with leading orchestras in Europe
including Zurich’s Tonhalle, Leipcig’s Gevandhaus, Orchestre de
Paris, Bavarian Radio Orchestra. In 1996 he was appointed Principal
Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997 Vladimir
Fedoseev was appointed Chief Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
As a highly acclaimed operatic conductor Fedoseev is a regular guest
conductor at the Zurich Opera as well as Opera Theatres in Milano,
Paris, Vienna, Bologna, Florence…
In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Russian Order for Services
to the Motherland and the same year he received from the Austrian
Republic the Silver Cross for his services to music in Austria.
He was also awarded the Golden Star of the honourable citizen of
Vienna and its territory in October 2002.