Saturday, 24 August 2013


“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” - Rabindranath Tagore

Music from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera in seven scenes, “Sadko” (Russian: Садко, the name of the main character). The libretto was written by the composer, with assistance from Vladimir Belsky, Vladimir Stasov, and others. Rimsky-Korsakov was first inspired by the bylina of Sadko in 1867, when he completed a tone poem on the subject, his Op. 5. After finishing his second revision of this work in 1892, he decided to turn it into a dramatic work. The musically unrelated opera was completed in 1896.  The music is highly evocative, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s famed powers of orchestration are abundantly in evidence throughout the score. According to the Soviet critic Boris Asafyev, writing in 1922, Sadko constitutes the summit of Rimsky-Korsakov’s craft.

Although the opera is not performed often nowadays, one of the arias is often played as an instrumental arrangement. This is the famed “Song of India” – which is one of the three arias that fit into the plot as replies by foreign merchants to questions about what their respective countries are like. Song of the Indian Guest (Песня Индийского гостя). Tommy Dorsey's 1938 instrumental arrangement of it is a jazz classic. Here are the classic arrangement and the jazz arrangement.

The illustration above is a detail from the 1876 painting by Ilya Repin of “Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom”.

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