April 19, 2011

Don’t Miss an Evening of Musical Storytelling with the RPO

The story of Scheherazade and her 1,001 Arabian Nights is widely known, and has been translated into countless languages. This weekend, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will give you the opportunity to experience this classic legend in a whole new way—through the language of music.

On Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the RPO and guest conductor David Robert Coleman will bring you two unique musical representations of Scheherazade. You’ll hear Ravel’s evocative and mesmerizing song-cycle, featuring soprano Christina Pier, and, Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful and tempestuous orchestral suite. The program also will feature Costa Rican violist Edmundo Ramirez in a performance of Albeniz Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra, a work composed by the concert’s conductor, David Robert Coleman. Click here to read the program notes for this piece.

The legend of Scheherazade centers on a cruel Sultan who, believing that all women are fickle, resolves to take a new bride each day and put her to death the next. As Christopher Seaman describes, the Sultan’s new wife, Scheherazade, “charms him into delaying her execution by telling him hair-raising stories…In the end, the Sultan can’t resist the charms or the stories of Scheherazade, so he postpones her execution permanently. A wise choice.”

Both Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade are based upon the same story, but each expresses the Arabian Nights legend in uniquely different ways. Ravel’s version is a musical setting of several poems by Tristan Klingsor, the pen name of Ravel’s friend, Arthur Justin Léon Leclère (click here to read the text with English translation), and is more of a vague, dream-like evocation than an explicit account. Christopher Seaman describes Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade as “a much more direct work than Ravel’s,” and points to the use of musical motifs used by Rimsky-Korsakov to signify “the cruel Sultan” and “his delightful wife Scheherazade (violin solo!).”

Since these works are programmed back-to-back, you will be able to explore the ways in which Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov’s respective versions differ from each other, the ways in which they evoke the legend of Scheherazade, and the ways in which they go beyond a literal depiction of the story to take on a unique musical "language."

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.

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