In this fascinating recording the legendary Neeme Järvi explores two lesser-known French ballets by Sauguet and Ibert, complemented by the Ballet Suite from Massenet’s opera Hérodiade. Sauguet studied composition with Canteloube and Koechlin. He wrote in a variety of genres, notably for radio and for film, but his ballet scores – more than twenty of them – were central to his output. Les Forains, (‘The Showfolk’), was first performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in March 1945. The cast was led by the work’s brilliant young choreographer, Roland Petit, and conducted by André Cluytens. Sauget’s wide-ranging influences, notably the orchestration of Richard Strauss as well as the works of SatieRead more and les Six, give his work a flowing, openly melodic style that is immediately appealing and full of wit and charm. Following the success of Les Forains, and the formal establishment in October 1945 of Les Ballets des Champs-Élysées, Roland Petit and Boris Kochno devised a number of new ballets for the company. One of these was Ibert’s Les Amours de Jupiter, premiered on 9 March 1946 with a cast led by Petit himself as Jupiter.
The Estonian orchestra plays all the ballets very well, though, like many other Chandos recordings, the acoustics are cavernous. Conductor Jarvi adds some more recordings to his ever-expanding catalog of more than 500 selections. This is a worthwhile addition to your collection of ballet scores.