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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Scheherazade - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Born on this date

18 March 1844 - 21 June 1908

Scheherazade is a story based on the epic tale 1001 Nights. It tells the drama of a Sultan, Shariyar who immerses himself in a a cycle of deadly cynicism; disillusioned at what he believes to be the unfaithfulness of all women after discovering how he was betrayed by his first wife, he has her killed. He sinks into a fit of bitterness which he feels can only be assuaged in the following manner; he resolves to marry a new woman every night and have her executed the following morning.

This destructive ritual - aimed at satiating Shariyar's wounded ego - continues unabated for three years until
Scheherazade - daughter of the Sultan's Grand Vizier - convinces her father that she should be the next one to marry the Sultan Shariyar in order to bring his killing spree to an end. She details a scheme to her father who remains unconvinced of her plan. He finally assents to her wish and Scheherazade becomes the next Sultana.

Sultana Scheherazade's conception is simple; weave fantastic tales that pique the Sultan's attention each night. Her novel plan is to mesmerize him with - but to never complete the story in one night. Instead, she vows to continue with her story on the subsequent day. The result;
her life is spared - on a day-by-day basis - in order that the Sultan can hear the story's conclusion. So her tentative existence is prolonged with every ensuing construction intricately woven for the brooding Sultan. Her incredible cliffhangers include the sagas of Ali Baba, Sinbad and Aladdin. Scheherazade's fate - and the fate of all the women in the kingdom - relies solely on her story-telling ability.

Scheherazade continues this feat, telling 1001 stories in as many days - during which she also produces three sons. Her prowess as a story-teller affords her time to prove her abiding fidelity to the Sultan. Her perseverance is finally rewarded with Shariyar's revocation of the death sentence.

Now that's some kinda woman - some kinda storyteller!

The first movement begins with a threatening, heavily laden score which represents the Sultan's dark sinister mood. Scheherazade
's voice is unmistakable; a lone violin that plays a consistently sweet, soothing melodic theme throughout the entire symphony.

There are four movements in all;

I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship
II. The Kalendar Prince
III. The Young Prince and The Young Princess
IV. Festival At Baghdad - The Sea - The Ship Crashes into a Rock

I especially like this performance by the Moscow Orchestra because I like the sound of Russian Symphonies - particularly when performing music written by Russian Composers.

This Symphony premiered on 28 October 1888 and was conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov.

If you would like to hear the symphony in its entirety, you will find - at the end of each video, there are small pictures in the YouTube screen where you can click on the picture which will take you the subsequent video - there are five videos in all.

Good night Scheherazade where ever you may be.


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