Relayed from The National Museum of Wales
Relayed to Daventry
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
(Leader, Louis Levitus)
Conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
Oriental subjects have always had a strong fascination for Rimsky-Korsakov, and in this Suite the East, with its blazing sunshine and its brilliance of colour, is vividly presented in the music.
The subject is, of course, from the 'Arabian Nights,' and the composer has prefaced his score with the following note:-
'The Sultan Schahriar, convinced of the infidelity of the whole race of women, has sworn to send each of his wives to death after only one bridal night. But Scheherezade saves her life by interesting him in tales which she recounts one after another for one thousand and one nights. Impelled by curiosity, the Sultan puts off from day to day the fate of the lady, and ends, as all the world knows, by renouncing his bloodthirsty intention.'
The four stories which are used as subjects in the several movements in the Suite are:-
1. The Sea and Sinbad's Vessel.
2. The story of the Prince Kalendar.
3. The Young Prince and the Young Princess.
4. Fete at Baghdad. The Sea. The ship is wrecked against the rock surmounted by the Warrior of Brass. Conclusion.
The first one begins with a robust tune which dearly indicates the furious Sultan. The run-nine phrase on the violin, which follows, is as clearly Scheherezade herself, and then a tranquil section in 6-4 time is the telling of the story. The wrath of the Sultan is heard again, and Scheherazade's seductive pleading, both mingling with the Story in a very interesting way, and at the very end soft presentment of the Sultan's theme tells us that for the moment, at least, the lady has won.
In like manner the other movements illustrate the tales with which listeners must all be familiar so that further analysis is hardly necessary. It is interesting, however, to note the reappearance, particularly in the tourtn movement, of the themes of the angry Sultan and the pleading Scheherazade. It is her theme which triumphs at the end, after we have heard the Sultan's in a much gentler form than at first.