Alexander Borodin

Prince Igor, opera (completed by Rimsky-Korsakov & Glazunov)

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    Alexander Borodin was a chemist by profession, but is more readily remembered as among the finest of nineteenth century Russian composers. Borodin's dual life prevented him from completing a number of important musical works, among them the opera Prince Igor. The composer labored on the score (and text) intermittently for nearly 20 years, intending to create a great historical tableau based on an ancient ballad about a hero in Russia's struggles against the tribes of Central Asia. The Polovtsy tribe took Igor prisoner for a time, and this episode provides much of the dramatic impetus for the opera. Prince Igor -- later completed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, and others -- remains one of the most important works in the history of Russian opera, though it is only rarely staged outside of its native land. Various reconstructions of Borodin's original intentions have been made, and the vast dimensions of the work pose problems. The work combines influences from French grand opera (rarely staged much anymore either) with, especially in its depiction of the "exotic" Polovtsy, the typically Russian harmonic daring also associated with Mussorgsky.

    The most famous music from the opera is a set of dances, the Polovtsian Dances, that accompany a banquet put on by the Khan of the Polovtsy. These are overwhelmingly brilliant and irresistibly barbaric in the best Romantic crowd-pleasing manner, particularly when performed with the original choral parts. The Dances gained an unexpected popular currency when one of the more memorable tunes was transformed into the song "Stranger in Paradise" as part of the Broadway musical Kismet (1953).

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. To the sun in his glory
    3. I hate a dreary life
    4. For long past
    5. The prairie flowered
    6. Dance of the Polovtsian maidens
    7. Daylight is fading
    8. Do you love?
    9. No sleep, no rest
    10. How goes it Prince?
    11. Polovtsian Dances
    12. Polovtsian March (Prelude)
    13. I shed bitter tears

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2014 Alto ALC 1215
    2013 Melodiya MELCD 1002080
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94608
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 EMI Classics
    2010 LIM 043
    2009 Boheme Svetlanov / Nikolaeva-Svetlanova 10145
    2008 Melodiya 413
    2007 Allegro Corporation 9805
    2005 Madacy 50503
    2005 Russian Lyre 004
    2004 Gala Records 615
    2002 Opera D'Oro 1359
    2001 Legacy Entertainment CBX001
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 66814
    1996 Melodiya 74321 29346-2
    1995 Philips / Philips
    1995 Philips 442537
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 63386
    1992 Mercury 434308
    1990 Sony Music Distribution 44878
    Manchester 141
    Le Chant du Monde 278871/73