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Rimsky-Korsakov: Sheherazade / Toronto SO, Peter Oundjian

Album Summary

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Scheherazade
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Recording with Chandos for the first time, this disc marks the beginning of a new partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. To kick off the proceedings, conductor Peter Oundjian, celebrating his 10th anniversary as Music Director, leads 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 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in Sheherazade, which he composed in 1888. Throughout the four movements, Rimsky Korsakov alludes to individual episodes and images from the Arabian Night stories in dazzling and bold orchestral colors. The work is a true feast for the ears and the imagination.

Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014
Certainly they play well together as an orchestral team, and the soloists come forwards with well-placed contributions in Rimsky-Korsakov's colourful score...What is so far missing is the capacity for the conductor to entrust more to the players...Nevertheless this is a good performance, scrupulously recorded.

BBC Music Magazine, October 2014
The main hero of this recording is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's lead violinist, Jonathan Crow. His Sheherazade...is a feisty, fearless and engaging storyteller...Crow's playing is almost enough to make this recording a prime version.

American Record Guide, January/February 2015
The sound is superb. It is just clean, smooth, and balanced, as if you're sitting about onethird of the way back in the auditorium so the orchestra sounds well blended. Technical stuff: on the SACD layer you get a standard stereo track and a 5.0 surround option. And this is a hybrid disc, so it will also play on a standard CD player. It still sounds pretty good. The sound is still very good.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (06/2013).


Rimsky-Korsakov Sheherazade Toronto Oundjian Chandos CHSA 5145
The Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, a naval officer, and a member of the group of composers known as the Moguchaya kuchka (literally The Mighty Handful but a.k.a. The Five). He was a master of orchestration. His best-known orchestral compositions are "Capriccio Espagnol, " the "Russian Easter Festival Overture," and the symphonic suite Op. 35, which is listed in Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians" as "Sheherazade" but more often spelled "Scheherazade." These works, along with suites and excerpts from some of his 15 operas, are staples of the late-Romantic music repertoire. "Sheherazade," an example of his frequent use of fairy tale and folk subjects, is based on unrelated episodes in "The Arabian Nights." The Sultan Shahriar, convinced of the faithlessness of women, had sworn to put to death each of his wives after the first night. The Sultana Sheherazade saved her own life by diverting him with stories that she told to him during 1001 nights. The Sultan, conquered by his curiosity, daily delayed her execution and finally renounced his vow.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) under Maestro Peter Oundjian offers an excellent performance. The recording quality is superb and TSO programme annotator Don Anderson's programme notes are good albeit limited to a single page. The front cover of the programme-note booklet and the programme notes themselves use the spelling Sheherazade. The back of the album offers the spelling Scheherazade; an error or a deliberate attempt to please everyone?
I hesitate to recommend this disk unreservedly for three reasons: first - a full-priced CD that contains only 45 minutes and 20 seconds of music is frankly poor value for money, especially because the competition is ferocious; second - there are several other full-priced CDs, and most offer a filler or two as well as "Sheherazade"; third - there are (at least) two budget-priced CDs that also offer a filler or two as well as "Sheherazade." If you are looking for a copy of this work, before you purchase this one try the budget-priced version - with excellent sound - by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz, which contains the suite from the opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" as a generous 20-minute filler.
Reluctant conclusion: buy this CD only if you are a devotee of the TSO or Peter Oundjian.
Ted Wilks
Submitted on 09/09/14 by Ted Wilks 
The Second Coming Of Toronto
This scintillating new recording of the Rimsky-Korsakov staple effortlessly ascends to the inner circle of classic versions. Maestro Oundjian demonstrates a strong affinity for this masterwork. Pacing, accenting, phrasing and balancing are all handled with aplomb. As for the members of the Toronto Symphony, their playing is impassioned, nuanced and technically rock solid. All the principals, especially the concertmaster, warrant special commendation. Donít allow the 45 minute playing time deter you. Itís a small sacrifice for such an outstanding effort. The SA sound is every bit as good. Itís transparent and luminous. The verisimilitude of the pickup is courtesy of Sound Mirror, a leading production/recording company, here working in conjunction with Chandos.
Submitted on 09/11/14 by Allen Cohen 
A marvelous interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakovís Sheherazade
This recording on the Chandos label is a wonderful example of the quality that this British label aspires to. Then again, itís 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 TSOís 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 Sheherazadeís 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 Ė 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 ďstandardĒ 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!

Submitted on 11/10/14 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Scheherazade
  • Performer: Jonathan Crow (Violin)
  • Conductor: Peter Oundjian
  • Ensemble: Toronto Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 45 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1888
  • Studio/Live: Live