This sequence is based on a melody from Alexander Borodin‘s opera Prince Igor.
Borodin made his living as a doctor/chemist and made significant contributions to the field of organic chemistry. He composed in his spare time, and is well known for his symphonies, string quartets, tone poem In the Steppes of Central Asia and his opera Prince Igor.
Before he could finish Prince Igor, Borodin died in 1887. Luckily his comrades Nicolai Rimskey-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov helped finish and edit the piece, which made its debut in 1890.
The opera tells the ancient Russian story about the campaign of Rus’ prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the invading Cuman (“Polovtsian”) tribes in 1185.
The opera is over four hours in length, but a few highlights have made their way to the concert hall on their own. This sequence comes from the most famous excerpt, the Polovetsian Dances, which comes from the end of Act 2, seen below.
Strive for a beautiful, silky sound as you sing through this melody. The Russians viewed the invading clans as exotic aliens, so fill your phrasing with mystery and lust. Maintain a steady, danceable pulse from beginning to end, and play the graced notes with the fluidity of a dancing maiden.
Don’t forget to jump ahead to 3:40 to hear the Mariinsky Bass Bone player DROP THE HAMMER.
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I hope this song gets you in the mood for a magical spring!
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