Symphony orchestra suite Scheherazade was written by Rimsky-Korsakov based on well-known Arabian folk tales One Thousand and One Nights. “I meant four-part orchestra suite… as if it were a kaleidoscope of magic characters and oriental pictures” – the composer said. Despite the fact that there is not a single genuine oriental melody in Scheherazade, it is recognized as oriental narration. Melodic turns, rhythms, orchestra colours, distinctive use of percussions – all these features show a thorough insight into music language of peoples of the East. Several separate parts, complete in form and in content, contrasting with each other, are united by common program and common musical concept. Character of Scheherazade is the pivot of this composition. The legend invented by people’s imagination concerning One Thousand and One Nights origin is reflected in this character.
From the first edition of Scheherazade and from the composer’s talks with friends it’s possible to learn which very fragments of One Thousand and One Nights impressed Rimsky-Korsakov. The sea and Sinbad’s ship – in the first part. The story of Kalendar Prince about miracles he saw in his travels – in the second part. Lyric scene (The Young Prince and The Young Princess) – in the third part. Two separate scenes: Festival at Bagdad and The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman – in the fourth part.
Ballet Le Sacre du Printemps is the culmination of I. Stravinsky’s “Russian” period. Le Sacre du Printemps resuscitates Pagan Russia, its nature, ancestors’ communal horseplay carried away by procreative instinct, subject to ritual calendar cycle, making a sacrifice for saving life, for spring renewal of the Earth. Original author’s type of symphonic concept is formed in Le Sacre du Printemps. Ritual with its strictly predesignate ceremonial order makes the concept’s base, there is no plot in the ordinary sense. Stravinsky's score contains many features that were novel for its time, including experiments in tonality, metre, rhythm, stress and dissonance. Rhythm becomes constructive and conceptual “core” and plays the leading part. It accretes with tone colour and intonation, harmony, takes picturesque and narrative functions, and reveals dramatic content of the scene.
Sunrise. The tribe gathers for celebration of Spring. Merriment and dances begin. Games excite everyone. Ritual of Abduction is followed by Spring Rounds. Then Ritual of the Rival Tribes begin, the people demonstrate their might and boldness. The elders headed by the Sage appear. The Sage blesses the earth and the people break into passionate Dance of the Earth. At the dead of night the young girls select the great sacrifice. The Chosen One is entrusted to the care of the tribe. The elders begin Ritual Action.