Sindbad the Sailor and the Ascot rider

Journeys... At all times attractive they are! How many great masterpieces of literature and art were created under the impression of meeting with something brand new and unexplored. In the midst of the Festival, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and Sergey Smbatyan had a "sea voyage" to the fabulous "musical extravaganza" of Rimsky-Korsakov, and then, together with the pianist Denis Kozhukhin, they had the most journey across Europe with Travel Notebook by Alexey Shor. The legendary Sindbad the Sailor, whose voyages are described in the "Thousand and one nights", inspired another traveller, composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, to create the symphonic Suite "Scheherazade". During his three-year round-the-world voyage on the clipper "Almaz", he described his acquaintance with the water element in a surprisingly bright literary work – "Chronicles of my musical life". Rimsky-Korsakov, an unsurpassed master of musical painting, demonstrated in Scheherazade the exceptional possibilities of orchestral colors and the feast of "sultry" harmonies. Eastern exoticism, in fashion throughout the nineteenth century became a favorite theme of the Russian composers. The "Scheherazade" perceived sensitively by Armenian musicians was a real visual and sound performance! And the musicians, and the audience was enthralled by the drama of the narrative. Sergey Smbatyan worked without score and showed off all possible sound colors of the orchestra, all its power and strength! The young conductor managed to pass on the composer’s message so the audience could make “an impression about this, definitely, Oriental narrative, its numerous and diverse fairy-tale miracles"!.. Talented Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin, the 1st prize winner of the prestigious competition named after Queen Elizabeth, who is known for brilliant interpretations of Schubert and Prokofiev, was presenting Alexey Shor’s Travel Notebook and said that he believes that this cycle is "something of interest, because the composer, by giving titles to his pieces, takes a certain responsibility by showing to the interpreter and audience a very specific image"! Going for a fascinating journey offered by Alexey Shor, please note a coherent architectonic works — seven-fold contrast composite form. The sequence of the pieces unveils the drama of the changing pictures: "Wayfarers Prayer" begins with singing intonations at the low strings. The curtain rises, and our protagonist, being in the shade, quietly utters the words of prayer. An interesting feature is that Shor lets us meet the famous cities but also the iconic sites. In this sense, we proceed to La Rambla Central Boulevard, located in the heart of Barcelona, then go to Rome (Addio); then admire the palace and park ensemble of Luxembourg garden in the center of Paris. The culminating part of the cycle comes in Rubicon (inspired by Ravenna). Idiom "Crossing the Rubicon" means passing the point of no return. Then follows Sorrow — Sadness and Venice. The final piece of the cycle is remarkable, created under impression of visiting Ascot in Berkshire County. The last part is titled Horseman and presents the most dynamic, bright, logically concluding cycle of the musical narration… The work was created for a solo instrument and orchestra, but it is not a piano Concerto. The soloist and orchestra constantly "argue" with each other; often the main themes literally "live" in the orchestra, and the piano plays an accompanying role. Shor’s music offers a variety of universal intonation lexicon, which he uses very skillfully. At the same time, the audience are not passive contemplators or philosophers; each listener finds something of his own in this surprisingly modest and elegant music. Alexey Shor seeks to convey spirituality, but rather the aura of each place, the folding of many factors – people, nature, architectural ensembles; we feel the taste of national food, the smell of exotic plants and — if you like it — of wine... the music of Alexey Shor has that good balance of imaging, illustrative, which does not preclude the perception of the purely emotional side works… Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Ravenna, Venice, Ascot. These are in Spain, Italy, France and England, but Italy leads. Many famous culture figures were enchanted by this beautiful country: remember Glinka in Milan, Tchaikovsky in Florence, and as for Rome, it became a promised land, accommodating almost all the great composers…

Tatiana Esaulova

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