St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Sergey Levitin as conductor (2003).
Rimsky-Korsakov's soaring composition was inspired by a Tales from the Arabian Nights, specifically a tale of the wicked Sultan Schariar who began marrying,bedding and beheading brides after he became convinced all women were faithless. Sheherazade volunteered to marry the king ,against all logic, but, with one major difference from her unfortunate predessors:
"[Shahrazad] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred."--Translated from "The Tales" by Sir Richard F. Burton
Only after studying many stories, sciences and histories could she tell spellbinding stories to the sultan and keep him entranced night after night, waiting to hear more.
Finally, the Sultan's heart melted and he fell in love with this enchanting story-teller, ending the reign of terror.
This is the Sixth and final movement of the symphony, one of the most beautiful romantic pieces of its time, and a favorite of mine from the first time I heard it a long time ago. It harkens to me of a beautiful technicolor Arabia of the imagination.