Ever since my 4CC trip, I’ve had this one particular song stuck in my head — Nathan Chen’s free skate song would not leave me alone. I found myself constantly humming this piece and listening to it on YouTube. There, I figured it made sense to feature this piece for this month’s Symphonic Selections. I’ve known this piece for years due to my band room days. “Polovtsian Dances” is the name and it was composed by Alexander Borodin. This piece is part of an opera, Prince Igor, but Borodin passed away before he could finish, so his contemporaries completed it. I highly recommend this moving piece. Do give it a listen!
This is the full arrangement with the chorus. The piece opens up with the “Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens”. Then it transitions into the introduction, a beautiful segment that enhances the exoticness of the song. It’s followed by the “Gliding Dance of the Maidens”, the most well-known portion of the song. The oboe and English horn solos are gorgeous, here! The next segments are the “Wild Dance of the Men”, “General Dance”, and “Dance of the Boys”. Of the three, I like the “General Dance” and the “Dance of the Boys”. Both are quite powerful in their own ways. After those three segments, the “Gliding Dance of the Maidens” repeats and combines with the “Dance of the Boys”. Then the boys and the men make an appearance again, and the piece finally culminates with the “General Dance” one last time.
This performance omits the “Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens” and the first “Wild Dance of the Men”, and it also omits the chorus, but I find that the missing sections don’t hurt the performance at all. If anything, I really love the way Maestro Ozawa conducts this piece. The slower pace at the beginning adds a more ethereal quality to the piece. I feel like this version takes me to a whole new world. The “General Dance” and the “Dance of the Boys” has a more raw sound. These two sections send shivers down my spine! The rest of the piece follows the same as the above, but with more brilliance and power!
Are you familiar with this piece? What do you think of the song? Which version do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!