I know I've featured the Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin before, but I don't know how long it's been and hey, I love this music so much that I don't care if I featured it last week! I've been on a big Borodin kick of late, so much so that I'm wondering why it took me this long to really lock onto him. I've been vaguely aware of Borodin for years, but only recently has be really pushed through into my consciousness, and I am very glad that he did. Here is how David Dubal describes Borodin in his book The Essential Canon of Classical Music:
With such a short life of so many demands, Borodin composed little. His music is the most lyrical in spirit of the Russian Five, and his melodies possess a delicate "oriental" atmosphere. His compositions have a special sweetness as well as a legendary character. In highly charged and picturesque music, Borodin idealized the savage life of the Russian steppes. His pieces have the allure of blazing Tartar blades and Arabian steeds in the heat of battle. It is music that leaps forward and seductively whispers mysterious romances in the slow movements.
This particular performance of the Polovtsian Dances is taken from a production of Borodin's opera Prince Igor, and the choreography of this production is as captivating as Borodin's music itself. I'm happy to note that this entire production of the opera is also available online, and I'm really thinking that I need to watch it. (And if you hate opera, it's OK -- the only singing here is by a chorus.)
Here are the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, by Alexander Borodin.