Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, recorded and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2003 by Compact Discoveries, Inc.

Program 43
"From Borodin to Broadway"

MUSIC: Excerpt from the Overture to Kismet by Richard Wright and George Forrest, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD1, track 1] under the following:

FLAXMAN: Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. The music in the background is the Overture to "Kismet," the 1953 Broadway musical by Richard Wright and George Forrest. Well, no it isn't, either. Not exactly. It's the Overture to "Kismet," all right, and Kismet was certainly by Wright and Forrest. But the great tunes were "borrowed" from, some would say "taken" from, some might even say "stolen" from, the beautiful music of the Russian composer Alexandr Borodin. Wright and Forrest readily acknowledge their debt to Borodin and say the music was "based on themes of Alexandr Borodin."

This Compact Discoveries hour is called "From Borodin to Broadway." We'll listen to selections from Kismet and pair them with the Borodin originals.

Wright and Forrest not only stole - I mean, borrowed - the music for Kismet. They also stole - I mean borrowed - the story, a fable by Edward Knoblock of a father's intense love for his only daughter and of his innate knowledge of life's many twists of fate. The overture is a good place to start, since it includes many of the great tunes from the rest of the musical.

MUSIC: up until the end of the Overture [2:49]

FLAXMAN: One of the biggest hits from Kismet was called "Stranger in Paradise" in the musical. Here, first, is what the song sounds like in the show; then what it sounds like when it appears in Borodin's Polovstsian Dances.

MUSIC: Wright & Forrest: "Stranger in Paradise," performed by the cast of the first complete recording of Kismet, with the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD1, track 12]

MUSIC: Borodin: excerpt from Polovstsian Dances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt [Intersound 2828, track 2]

FLAXMAN: The original "Stranger in Paradise" as written by Alexandr Borodin from his Polovstsian Dances was preceded by the song from the Broadway musical Kismet by Wright and Forrest.

During this hour I am using the first complete digital recording of the show on the Jay label. It features Valerie Masterson, Donald Maxwell, David Rendall, Richard Van Allan, the Ambrosian Chorus, and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards. The Polovstsian Dances are from an Intersound recording of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt.

Let's listen to the complete Polovstsian Dances now, since Wright and Forrest used several of these themes in their show, the original piece takes less than 15 minutes, and it is so chocked full of beautiful melodies.

MUSIC: Borodin: Polovstsian Dances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt [Intersound 2828, track 2] [14:10]

FLAXMAN: Alexandr Borodin's Polovstsian Dances. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Olé Schmidt.

You are listening to "From Borodin to Broadway" on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next we turn to another beautiful ballad from the musical Kismet, "And This is My Beloved," followed by the original Borodin score, the third movement of the String Quartet No. 2.

MUSIC: Wright & Forrest: And This is My Beloved , performed by the cast of the first complete recording of Kismet, with the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD2, track 7]

MUSIC: Borodin: String Quartet No. 2, 3rd Movement, with The Borodin String Quartet [EMI CDC 7 47795 2, track 7] [8:34]

FLAXMAN: The Borodin Quartet performed the third movement of Alexandr Borodin's String Quartet No. 2. Before that you heard the same tune as adapted by Wright and Forrest for their musical, Kismet. For that I used the Jay compact disc of the first complete digital recording of that show.

Another hit from Kismet was a song called "Baubles, Bangles and Beads." Let's listen to that next, first as sung in Kismet, then from the original Borodin, the second movement of the String Quartet No. 2.

MUSIC: Wright & Forrest: Baubles, Bangles & Beads, performed by the cast of the first complete recording of Kismet, with the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD2, track 7] [4:59]

MUSIC: Borodin: String Quartet No. 2, 2nd Movement, with The Borodin String Quartet [EMI CDC 7 47795 2, track 7] [4:46]

FLAXMAN: The second movement of Borodin's String Quartet No. 2 as performed by the Borodin Quartet. Before that we heard the Broadway musical adaptation of the Borodin theme from the first part of that movement in the song "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" from Kismet, more or less by Richard Wright and George Forrest.

The very first song in Kismet is called "Sands of Time." This is how it starts out in the Broadway musical.

MUSIC: Wright & Forrest: excerpt from the opening of "Sands of Time," performed by the cast of the first complete recording of Kismet, with the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD1, track 2]

FLAXMAN: And this is how Borodin's tone poem, In the Steppes of Central Asia, begins.

MUSIC: excerpt from the opening of Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt (Intersound 2828, track 4]

FLAXMAN: Not much of a difference, is there? After that in Kismet, a vocalist comes in, singing a tune from In the Steppes of Central Asia, like so

MUSIC: Wright & Forrest: excerpt from the beginning of the singing in "Sands of Time," performed by the cast of the first complete recording of Kismet, with the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Owen Edwards [Jay CDJAY2 1251, CD1, track 2]

FLAXMAN: Let's conclude "From Borodin to Broadway," now, with a complete performance of Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt.

MUSIC: Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt (Intersound 2828, track 4]. [7:19]

FLAXMAN: With Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Olé Schmidt, we conclude this hour of Compact Discoveries, which I called "From Borodin to Broadway." Please let me know if you enjoyed it, because Richard Wright and George Forrest also put together a Broadway musical called Song of Norway based on the music of Edvard Grieg. I would be happy to put together "From Grieg to Broadway" if there's enough interest. My name is Fred Flaxman, and you can reach me in care of this station or by e-mail at fflaxman@wxel.org.

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Incorporated, and is a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: ends at 58:00

 
  2009 Compact Discoveries