Charles Dutoit / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Russian Easter Festival

(CD - Onyx #ONYX 4064)

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Composed at the height of his considerable skills as a master orchestrator, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Russian Easter Festival Overture are both marvelous examples of the variety of tone colors, textures, and scenic expressions a symphony orchestra can produce. Scheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov's highly popular setting of four tales from "The Arabian Nights" does not attempt to portray a blow-by-blow representation of the story; rather, Rimsky-Korsakov paints broad impressions, allowing his listeners to fill in the blanks for themselves. The Russian Easter Overture, with its rapturous build-up of intensity, immediately followed Scheherazade and was curiously intended to depict some of the more heathenish aspects of the holiday. Giving both of these perennial favorites exemplary performances is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra led by Charles Dutoit. The long-lived orchestra in the hands of the veteran conductor performs with passion and confidence, giving listeners exactly what Rimsky-Korsakov had intended: a sweeping array of orchestral sounds. From the tender, evocative violin solos in Scheherazade to the robust, spine-tingling power of the brass chorus at the end of Russian Easter Overture, the RPO's breadth of and control over dynamics is impressive and used to great effect. Dutoit brings a nice sense of both Arabian flair and Russian grandeur. Onyx's sound quality is clear and well-balanced.

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