There is something oddly seductive about the way the Russian Romantic composers, while trained in the musical traditions of the west, often looked eastward for inspiration. That exotic flavor lives so sparklingly in the work of Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, and is also found in the works of other Russians of the time, such as Alexander Glazunov. This work here, the Oriental Rhapsody, sounds like it belongs on a program of such music alongside Scheherazade and In the Steppes of Central Asia. It’s a musical tribute to an Asia-that-never-was, born in a time when the word “Orient” was used to sum up virtually a third of the entire world and all the peoples therein. There’s no real depiction of an actual Asia here, just an imagined one…but the imagination is powerful.
Here is Glazunov’s Oriental Rhapsody.