Two Russian Arias
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov arranged eight operatic arias for string orchestra in the mid-1880s. Taken from A Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin) and Ruslan and Ludmilla, the first and last are for soloist and the strings and the others are for string orchestra.
Susanin’s Aria is the last of the suite and is for solo double bass and string orchestra. The slow and expressive vocal line makes effective use of the low and sonorous register of the double bass with a simple and supportive accompaniment. The middle section is more animated before a dramatic and inventive coda.
Ruslan’s Aria is the first work of the suite and was originally for solo cello and string orchestra. A slow introduction and accompanied recitative set the scene, leading into a lyrical and evocative aria with its gently moving and flowing accompaniment.