Violinist Matthew Hakkarainen ('22) Shares Fond Memories of Recording "Scheherazade"

The recent Curtis alum describes his experience recording Rimsky-Korsakov's masterpiece

The Curtis Institute of Music recently announced the launch of Curtis Studio, an exciting new recording label featuring the artistry of notable alumni, faculty, and students. This Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the school will debut its first digital release, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Recorded in 2021 as part of a much-lauded new performance installation Immersive Scheherazade, Maestro Osmo Vänskä masterfully conducts the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in a stunning new interpretation of this rapturous symphonic suite.

Pre-save your copy HERE.

The epic 19th-century classic features a sinuous recurring violin solo performed by recent Curtis alumnus, the extraordinary young violinist Matthew Hakkarainen (’22). His nuanced interpretation perfectly evokes the spirit of the clever bride Scheherazade as she weaves tales to mesmerize her royal husband, the sultan.

Mr. Hakkarainen recently described his experience recording Scheherazade and the vision behind his interpretation of the famous violin solos:

“Recording Scheherazade with Maestro Vänskä and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra was a truly unique and special experience. It was a joy to collaborate with everyone in the orchestra to record such a great piece. I remember how exciting it was to see Gould Hall transformed into a studio-like setting, filled with many cameras, lights, and other equipment. This was my first experience taping a piece in a setting like this, and I think it was for many of my colleagues as well. This will definitely live in my memory for many years to come!

“Of course, one of the things that makes Scheherazade so special is the abundance of solos for instruments throughout the orchestra, including the violin. The solos written for the violin weave in and out of the work as it moves through each movement. For me, the violin solos represent Scheherazade, narrating her enrapturing stories over the course of a thousand and one nights. My goal with these solos was to say something new that added to the story with each entrance of the violin, in the hopes of piecing together an epic and complete tale by the conclusion of the piece. Hence, even though much of the material is repeated across the various solos, you’ll hear that my interpretations of them differ based on their surrounding context.

“If I had to pick a favorite of all the violin solos throughout the piece, I would probably choose the extended solo found in the third movement. The third movement is the most warm and loving of all the movements, and in this particular cadenza for the violin, Rimsky-Korsakov provides perhaps the most opportunity for the utmost expression and passion. My favorite phrase of the whole piece comes immediately following the broken chords in ricochet, where the solo violin finally has a chance to sing freely and indulge in the beautiful theme of the third movement.

“Many thanks to everyone who made this recording possible, including Maestro Vänskä, everyone in the recording crew, the orchestra operations team, and of course my dear colleagues in the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. This recording features some remarkable playing from many of my closest friends, and I couldn’t be more excited for the recording’s release.”

Pre-save your copy to hear Mr. Hakkarainen and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra’s performance on Apple Music, Spotify, and Deezer HERE.

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