Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera ‘Mlada’ is a Wagner-influenced epic teeming with national conflicts and battles in the spirit world; it draws on Russian myth, yet contains parallels to Goethe's Faust as well, making for a formidable challenge indeed for performer and listener. However, Rimsky-Korsakov was enough of a professional to prepare a short suite of catchy dances as he readied the opera for its premiere in 1892. A short introduction features an upward-spiraling melody, introduced in a delicate clarinet solo, that soon spreads to the rest of the orchestra. The three national dances which follow are, in the opera, performed for a vision of Cleopatra; they sound perfectly innocuous here, shorn of context. The ‘Redowa’ is a stately but energetic Bohemian dance full of ebullient trills and strong rhythms. The ‘Lithuanian’ Dance that follows is dark-colored and dashing, with the rhythm and melody traded quickly between sections of the orchestra. The ‘Indian Dance’ allows Rimsky-Korsakov to indulge his genius for composing what the Russians thought of as ‘Oriental’ melodies, sinuous yet cheery and played on felicitous combinations of woodwinds with snare drum underpinning. The final piece, the ‘Procession of the Nobles’ that opens the second act of the opera, is by far the most famous; with its high-spirited brass fanfares and boisterous percussion, it comes extremely close to being a march in 3/4 time, and provides a rousing conclusion to a suite that doesn't exactly recall the opera from which it was drawn, but has its own charms.