Alexander Borodín - "Petite Suite: A. Serenade"
“I’m a composer in search of oblivion; I’m always slightly ashamed to admit I compose.” So said one of the most brilliant Russian scientists of his generation, for whom composing was only a hobby. Welcome to the extraordinary world of genius melodist Alexander Borodin.
The place is Baghdad. The year 1955. Howard Keel emerges stage right, legs akimbo, boldly intoning The Sands Of Time at the end of one of the best-sung musicals in Hollywood history: Kismet.
Under André Previn’s direction, MGM’s Studio Orchestra and co-stars Ann Blythe, Dolores Grey and Vic Damone held us spellbound with such unforgettable numbers as Strangers In Paradise, And This Is My Beloved and Night Of My Nights.
Everyone’s wondering who wrote all those haunting melodies – Kern, Porter, Rodgers? Not a bit of it. When Kismet first went into production, its unwitting composer had been dead nearly 70 years. His name? Alexander Borodin.
In a letter of 1877, the great Russian composer Tchaikovsky noted that “Borodin possesses talent, a very great talent, which, however, has come to nothing for want of instruction, and because blind fate has led him into the science laboratories.”
And there you have it in a nutshell. Borodin was indeed one of the most naturally gifted of all Russian composers, yet his principal vocation as a brilliant research chemist and lecturer meant that he spent too little time composing. Had things turned out differently, there’s no telling what he might have achieved, but at least he left us a handful of masterpieces that provide tantalising glimpses of an adorable musical personality.
So today, stealing kismet kisses, I choose Alexander Borodín’s "Petite Suite: A. Serenade" as my, magic in the moonlight, sweetness in the sun, laughter in the living, song for a, hold on to hope, seek out the joy, find only the good, Wednesday.