JoAnn Falletta: Behzad Ranjbaran Persian Trilogy, London Symphony

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Seemorgh (1991)

I. The Mountain [0:00]
II. The Moonlight [5:55]
III. The Sunrise [14:23]

A tone poem from the Persian Trilogy by Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran (born 1955). Like "Seven Passages" and "The Blood of Seyavash", "Seemorgh" is based on an episode from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the national epic of Iran. The Seemorgh was a benevolent mythological bird that appears in the Shahnameh, helping the mighty warriors Zal and Rostam, as well as the beautiful princess Rubada.

The Blood of Seyavash (1993-94)

I. The Young Prince and Heir [0:00]
II. Seduction by Betrayal [9:12]
III. Trial by Fire [16:03]
IV. Tormented Loyalties [20:14]
V. Seeds of Envy [25:16]
VI. Idyllic Love [29:33]
VII. Prophecy Fulfilled [34:55]

A ballet from the Persian Trilogy by Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran (born 1955), which is based on the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the national epic of Iran. This work depicts the legend of Prince Seyavash, the son of Shah Kay Kavus, who was the embodiment of innocence betrayed. By refusing to betray his father and be seduced by his step-mother Sudabeh, Seyavash was put on trial and forced into exile in Turan, where he fell in love and married Princess Farangis and became the adopted son of King Afrasyab of Turan. However, his happiness did not last long. The wicked Garsivaz, brother of Afrasyab, began sowing the seeds of envy in the king. Eventually Garsivaz managed to convince the king that Seyavash was conspiring against him with Afrasyab's arch-rival Shah Kavus. King Afrasyab orders Prince Seyavash put to death; red tulips sprout from the ground where Seyavash's blood was spilled.

There are three principal themes in the ballet: 1. The Destiny theme, heard at the beginning of the ballet, foretelling of Prince Seyavash's doom; 2. the Humanity theme, which embodies Seyavash's high moral principles and is heard immediately after the Destiny theme; and 3. the Conspiracy theme representing jealousy, introduced by the piccolo in the opening scene. The first three tableaux are set in Iran, the fourth is a transitional scene, and the final three take place in the rival state of Turan.

Seven Passages (2000)

This is a tone poem by Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran (born 1955), based on an episode known as the Seven Trials of Rostam from the Shahnameh, a poetic retelling of the mythology and history of Iran by the Persian poet Ferdowsi (940-1020 C.E.). The Shahnameh is considered the national epic of Iran, and it inspired the other two works in Ranjbaran's Persian Trilogy, The Seemorgh and The Blood of Seyavash. The mighty hero Rostam was a herculean figure, who single-handedly undertook the liberation of the army of Shah Kay Kavus, which had been captured while on an expedition to Mazandaran. Along the way, Rostam carries out seven labours: The slaying of a ferocious lion that attacked Rostam's horse named Rakhsh; surviving a journey through an inhospitable desert through the grace of God; slaying a dragon; overcoming the temptation of a demon disguised as a lovely enchantress; besting the Mazandarani champion Aulad and killing Arzand Div, the demon chief in Mazandaran; freeing the Persian Shah Kay Kavus from demons; and finally, slaying the mighty Div-e-Sepid, the White Demon, whose blood he used to restore the eyesight of the Shah.

Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
London Symphony Orchestra