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Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade / Oundjian, Toronto Symphony

Rimsky-korsakov / Toronto Sym Orch
Release Date: 08/26/2014 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5145   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Jonathan Crow
Conductor:  Peter Oundjian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 0 Hours 45 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Recording with Chandos for the first time, this album marks the beginning of a new partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. A regular presence in concert halls throughout the US and Canada, this recording also comes as the TSO embarks, in August, on its first European tour since 2000 under the baton of Peter Oundjian, who this year celebrates his tenth anniversary as Music Director. He also conducts in this performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever-popular symphonic suite Sheherazade.

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
Read more 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. - Chandos

Review Quote

"Both conductor and orchestra make a very positive impression in Sheherazade. Oundjian shapes the music with passion and affection and pulls off some powerful climaxes. He is not afraid to go all out when the music requires it. But Oundjian is also a man who attends to details. The precision of the playing is first-class.

Rimsky’s score abounds in virtuoso opportunities for principle players in the orchestra and it is a joy to hear the TSO musicians show off. It is the concertmaster who gets the most opportunities and Jonathan Crow clearly demonstrates why he is such an asset to the orchestra..." - Paul E. Robinson, Musical Toronto

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Works on This Recording

Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Jonathan Crow (Violin)
Conductor:  Peter Oundjian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
Date of Recording: 06/2013 
Venue:  Live  Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 45 Minutes 18 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Passionate, gutsy performance, well engineered di May 26, 2016 By Ronald H. (Bellevue, WA) See All My Reviews "Putting the performance aside -- this is one of the better-engineered disks I own. The interior parts sparkle as if it was a live performance." Report Abuse
 A marvelous interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s S November 10, 2014 By Warren Harris See All My Reviews "This recording on the Chandos label is a wonderful example of the quality that this British label aspires to. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with Peter Oundjian and the fine musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, led by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow. The first movement of this well known piece demonstrates two things: The strength and directed force of the TSO’s horn sections, as well as the dynamic range that Mr. Oundjian feels free to explore in the piece. It also rather effectively shows off the abilities of Mr. Crow in putting forth Sheherazade’s theme in a way that just feels emotionally correct and engaging. In the second movement the oboe engages the ear and captures the attention of the listener just as a captivating story teller does, and the strings and horns do a good job in bringing to life the swells and tribulations to match what one might imaging Sheherazade is conveying to the Sultan. The third movement, which begins with gorgeous sweeping strings, leads into outstanding English horn and flute solo work – this movement is wonderfully performed from start to finish, both playful and moving, fetching and delightful. The fourth movement, of course, is a well orchestrated and fitting conclusion to the piece, and the TSO continues to excel here. It would have been a real treat to hear this in person. I should also note that the Super Audio CD format really does this CD justice, although it is perfectly delightful in “standard” CD audio play as well. The liner notes, while a bit sparse regarding the musical material, do provide some useful background information about Mr. Oundjian and the TSO as well. This is wonderful music, well performed and highly recommended!" Report Abuse
 An orchestral jewel September 5, 2014 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "“The centuries go by, and we are still hearing the voice of Scheherezade.” Jorge Luis Borges talks about how The Arabian Nights have become part of the DNA of Western culture. “It is part of our memory,” he says. In Rimsky-Korsakov’s retelling of these ageless themes, the powerfully cogent arguments of 19th century music - thematic exposition, development & recapitulation, scherzo, reverie, transfiguration - become the stories that each time stave off execution. The titles supplied by the composer for each section - The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, Festival at Baghdad, and the rest - aren’t important in themselves. Rimsky-Korsakov tells Scheherezade’s life-or-death story by placing her voice - a beautiful theme for solo violin - in the middle of the action, and showing her success through the final taming of the savage and barbaric themes with a quiet but satisfyingly hopeful ending. This orchestral showpiece was especially popular in the 1950s and 60s. At 40-45 minutes it just fit on two LP sides. Celebrated versions were released with the great orchestras of the day conducted by Fritz Reiner, Leopold Stokowski and others. These tended to be full-blown, exotic, colourful and romantic interpretations. By the CD era, more analytic, cooler readings focussed on the orchestral virtuosity and rhythmic variety. Kirill Kondrashin’s recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Charles Dutoit’s with the Montreal Symphony are stand-outs. The extra room on CDs almost always brought additional pieces - often the Russian Easter Orchestra or the Capriccio Espagnole, or both. This brand-new Chandos disc shows off a revitalized Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the impressive leadership of Peter Oundjian, and the result is everything one could hope for. Instrumental playing is at the highest level - including the solo violin played, I presume, by concertmaster Jonathan Crow - and the story-telling is all under Oundjian’s expansive, not-too-fussy control. The Chandos engineers provide outstanding multi-channel surround sound from the Roy Thompson Hall sessions in June 2013, and it sounds great in the standard stereo format. Forty-five minutes is short measure for a CD or album-length download, but perhaps standing alone best shows off the sparkle of this orchestral jewel." Report Abuse
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