Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Richard Trinder
Managing Editor
9:20 AM 26th February 2024

Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, And So Much More

Steven Osborne. Photo © Benjamin Ealovega
Steven Osborne. Photo © Benjamin Ealovega
If the Disney Corporation ever decided to make a third Fantasia then surely South Korean-born composer Unsuk Chin's piece - roughly translated as ‘suddenly, with power’ would be a contender for the soundtrack.

Chin's piece was a thrilling starter to the Orchestra of Opera North's recent concert in their Kirklees Orchestral Series. With their Principal Guest Conductor, Antony Hermus, bursting with irrepressible enthusiasm for the music he clearly loves, this concert was packed with energy from the first to the final note.

Award-winning pianist Steven Osborne returns to the Kirklees Concert Season in Ravel’s amazing Piano Concerto in G major. I'm sure I could detect the DNA of Gershwin American in Paris in the opening movement, and of course Gershwin and Ravel did form a mutual admiration society.

On meeting Maurice Ravel in New York in 1928, Gershwin asked about studying with the French composer. Ravel reportedly replied, 'Why would you want to be a second-rate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?'

It was all the more appropriate, then, for the excellent Steven Osborne to add a jazzy, bluesy encore from Gerswin's Porgy and Bess.


Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade has such a strong narrative that it is essentially a film with the visual elements stripped away. It is a powerful story of the life of a terrifying Sultan, a thousand and one nights and his profound mistrust of women - all overlaid with reminders of the composer’s early life as a sailor.

Yes, hard to imagine, the great composer was once an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy. And we can hear the rolling, crashing seas as a meme popping up throughout the work as just four of Scheherazade's nightly tales are orchestrated.

Such a powerful programme requires an orchestra on top form and the Orchestra of Opera North deliver all the power and dynamics required to make this work.

This was an excellent concert in every respect.

Only one question remains: If Disney do decide to make a live action Fantasia then who would take on the role of the irrepressible mouse? Someone with charmingly irrepressible enthusiasm perhaps?

Coming soon: Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina joins the Orchestra for Strauss’ beautiful musical farewell, the Four Last Songs.
Thursday 11 April 2024, Pre-concert talk 6.40pm
Start time 7.30pm, Huddersfield Town Hall.
Full details can be found here.