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Ballet Masterpieces [35-CD Set]


Release Date: 10/27/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001347402   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Adolphe AdamFrédéric ChopinCarl Maria von WeberBenjamin Britten,   ... 
Conductor:  Richard BonyngeJohn LanchberyStanley BlackVladimir Ashkenazy,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden OrchestraEnglish Chamber OrchestraNational Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 35 
This title is currently unavailable.



Notes and Editorial Reviews

35 CDs at an unrepeatable price!

Capbox with 60-page booklet which includes an essay on ballet music from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century [article in Eng/Fr/Ger].

Famous Ballets Include:
Coppélia • Swan Lake • The Nutcracker • The Sleeping Beauty • Cinderella • Romeo and Juliet • Giselle • Le Corsaire • Sylvia • La Fille mal gardée • Daphnis et Chloé • Petrouchka • Le Sacre du printemps

Celebrated Conductors Include:
Ansermet • Ashkenazy • Bonynge • Bychkov • Chailly • Dorati • Dutoit • Maazel

NOTE: THIS IS A ONCE-ONLY LIMITED-EDITION BOXED SET!

Reviews of Original Recordings:

Le Corsaire Read more />
Adolphe Adam's score for Le corsaire was first heard in Paris during 1856, and was highly praised for its originality and dramatic intensity. The involvement of the Empress Eugenie, an inveterate and assiduous patron of the Paris Opera, during the preparation ensured that no expense was spared in any area of the production, and hence it seemed entirely reasonable that the score should be commissioned from Adam, composer of Giselle, and unquestionably the most influential French musician writing for the ballet. Le corsaire was to be his last ballet score, and although it remains in the repertoire in St Petersburg, elsewhere it has been eclipsed by the popularity of Giselle.

Predictably, the plot is convoluted, and occasionally absurd, but the approval of Parisian audiences secured 43 performances during 1856 alone. Richard Bonynge's realization is excellent in every respect, and includes later additions by Leo Delibes for the revival of 1867. Stylistically, his ''Pas de fleurs'' divertissement, interpolated into the final act, hardly reveals an alien hand at work, and could easily pass as part of Adam's original score. The opening act contains a ''Pas de cinq'', with national dances of France, Spain, Italy, Moldavia and Scotland, the latter wrongly attributed to English sources in the original production, but the highlights are the splendid bacchanal of the pirate Conrad and his crew, and the ''Pas de eventails'' from scene 2. The Second Act takes place at the Pasha's palace in Adrianople, as Conrad and his men, now disguised as pilgrims, plan to rescue the beautiful Medora from the harem. Due to the treachery of Conrad's henchman Birbanto, he is taken prisoner, and the final act recounts his efforts to escape, returning to his ship with Medora. Arguably the finest music is that portraying the lovers' premature rejoicing at their freedom, and the depiction of the storm which leaves them stranded together upon a rock following the destruction of the ship, reaching safety just as the final curtain falls.

Bonynge draws the diverse threads of the score together with a degree of expertise acquired from a lifetime of involvement with music of this nature, enabling the listener to follow the plot without difficulty. He obtains notably superior playing throughout from the English Chamber Orchestra. It seems almost superfluous to mention that the ballet has little in common with Byron's heroic poem from which it derives its title, save for the nautical involvement of several of its main protagonists. That said, however, Le corsaire is a superbly crafted score, which, like Adam's operas, Le postillon de Lonjumeau and La poupee de Nuremberg, has good cause to be more generally recognized.

-- Michael Jameson, Gramophone, 10/1992

Les Sylphides

"There have been many good recordings of Les sylphides, the most popular being the 1961 DG recording conducted by Karajan (2535 189, 1/77). Suffice it to say that I prefer this new release. The performance is more characteristic and, as might be expected, the digital sound is far better."

-- Gramophone [3/1983]

La fille mal gardée

John Lanchbery's score for Lafihle mal gardée is one of the great ballet scores of the modern era—a creation to delight even those who do not normally care for ballet. I refer to it as Lanchbery's score, because Louis Hérold, to whom it is usually attributed, was seemingly little more than a nursemaid along the course of the elderly ballet story's life. Certainly he would seem to have contributed little more to this version than did the likes of Hertel and (albeit unwittingly) Rossini and Donizetti, while Lanchbery himself provided the score with its final structure, its uniformity and its final coat of orchestral colour. Lanchbery, moreover, knows better than anyone else how to get the most out of the score, and the fact that it is here absolutely complete in superb digital sound makes this recording self-recommending for ballet lovers. As if that were not enough, Decca have added the irresistibly racy score that Gordon Jacob arranged from some highly tuneful French operetta music by Charles Lecocq, to make a real winner.

-- Gramophone [12/1991]

Les Sylphides and La Boutique fantasque

"Les Sylphides and La Boutique fantasque originated from commissions by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes after World War I. Based on an assortment of Chopin piano works, Les Sylphides originally was arranged and orchestrated by Glazunov, with the Nocturne and the final Valse brilliante done by Stravinsky in his first assignment for Diaghilev. This performance utilizes a version orchestrated by Roy Douglas that retains all the original numbers but alters the sound of the piece to a noticeable degree (and not always to its advantage). While there are some passages (such as the two Mazurkas) that sound decidedly Chopinesque, Glazunov's arrangement sounds more cohesive than Douglas's--and more balletic. (Plus it's interesting to hear the young Stravinsky's contribution.) These differences have little effect on Richard Bonynge's performance with the National Philharmonic, which is as light and graceful as you could wish.

For La Boutique fantasque Respighi orchestrated a number of Rossini miniatures, many coming from his Sins of My old Age collection. The result is a cheerful and brightly colored work that presents Rossini in spicy "modern" dress. Although the brilliant performance by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra on Sony sets the standard in virtuosity and sumptuous orchestral sound, Bonynge's smoothly-played reading makes a good presentation of the piece."

-- -Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com

Aida, Don Carlos, I vespri siciliani

"What can be said about this collection is that all the music is played with fine Italianate gusto, yet with plenty of style and polish, and that Decca's sumptuous richly hued recording is in the demonstration class. So anyone looking for ingenuously tuneful dance music, presented in bold primary colours with plenty of zest, should be well satisfied."

-- Gramophone [1/1990]

Firebird

Dorati here completes the trilogy of early Stravinsky ballet scores in his new recordings with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Petrushka—SXDL7521, 10/81; The Rite of Spring—SXDL7548, 2/82), again with sound of exceptional fullness, clarity and precision. It is not long since ASV reissued his 1977 version with the RPO, and the vividness of sound on that is still most impressive. But with more space round the players—particularly the woodwind soloists—the new Decca has almost every advantage. Only the leader when playing solo tends to get spotlit, and repeatedly one marvels that textures can be made so clear yet well co-ordinated too. The clarity and definition of dark, hushed passages is amazing, for example, with the contra bassoon finely focused, never sounding woolly or obscure, and with string tremolos down to the merest whisper uncannily precise.

Precision is a quality of the performance too, when comparing it with Dorati's RPO version. His view of the work has changed little. The obvious contrast is that where the RPO has more individuality in the solo work, the Detroit orchestra is a degree better drilled. Not that that is a complete advantage, for in Kastchei's Dance the tempo is now marginally slower, and the precision has just a hint of cautiousness in it. There is more fire in the Firebird in an even earlier Dorati performance on Mercury with the LSO (reissued on SRI75058, 4/82), and the two Philips versions listed above both bring playing a degree more refined than that of the Detroiters. But few will be disappointed with the new issue, when the sound is so spectacular and the performance in its own right a strong and brilliant one, which tells the story of the ballet more graphically than most in the sharply dramatic style typical of Dorati.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [2/1984]

Nutcracker

"Here is yet another major new recording of The Nutcracker. Undoubtedly its great success stems a good deal from the superlative Berlin Philharmonic, but it also confirms Semyon Bychkov as a major new presence on the recording scene. He has the singularly important gift of bringing music to life in the recording studio as at a concert, and every bar of this performance is tingling with vitality. The "Miniature Overture" is brisk, crisply accented and played almost like Mozart, but it sets the mood for a First Act which has the liveliness of Mackerras (Telarc) and an even greater sense of drama—the gun shot which opens the battle sequence makes one jump the first time one hears it. The balance of the Berlin recording helps to increase the sense of drama. Although a concert hall ambience is favoured, the strings seem that bit more forward and inner detail is rather more sharply defined; in climaxes the cymbals clash with a thrillingly metallic bite. The Berlin strings do not suffer from being rather more brightly lit: the effect is not artificial and there is no lack of warmth when they play the gorgeous climbing scalic melody of Clara's journey throught the Pine Forest with the Prince. Similarly, in the famous Act 2 Pas de deux the massed violins have plenty of body to support the passionate intensity of the music's line. Bychkov knows just how to make a romantic tune soar, yet the histrionics are kept in hand. At the brass climax the acoustics provide less sonority than Telarc, but more bite. Earlier Bychkov balances the serenely glowing but essentially pure choral timbre of the Berlin Cathedral trebles in the "Waltz of the Snowflakes" against a sparkling orchestral response. In the Divertissement, the orchestra is on superb form. One delights in the sheer style of the "Spanish Dance"; the deliciously pointed "Chinese Dance" and the elegant flutes."

-- Gramophone [9/1987]

La Valse, Alborada del gracioso, Daphnis et Chloé

"An idiomatic sense of style and a very fine ear have kept these performances before an admiring public for more than four decades in some cases. Ernest Ansermet's La Valse has always stood with the best, offering strikingly clear, linear transparency of texture with no holding back at the volcanic climaxes. Alborada del gracioso still charms, and this Daphnis et Chloé remains one of Ansermet's (and the work's) great recordings. It has that "magical" atmosphere in abundance, and a gripping symphonic logic that carries the work off in a single impressive span. Ansermet correctly treats the chorus as an integrated, coloristic background, and not soloistically, and if the final Bacchanale doesn't have quite the lift of some other favorite versions (Munch or Boulez, say), the scene in the pirate's camp and the threatening apparition of Pan never have been done better."

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Romeo and Juliet

"The recording to have is by Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra. This may well be the finest orchestral recording that he ever made. Maazel’s rhythmic precision (which resembles Antal Doráti’s ballet conducting) and the Cleveland Orchestra’s flawless execution must be heard to be believed, and the sound represents the Decca system at its best."

-- Arthur Lintgen, Fanfare [5/2010]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Giselle by Adolphe Adam
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
2.
Le corsaire by Adolphe Adam
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; France 
3.
Les Sylphides by Frédéric Chopin
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
4.
Invitation to the Dance, in D flat major J 260/Op. 65 by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Dresden, Germany 
5.
Soirées musicales, Op. 9 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; England 
6.
Matinées musicales, Op. 24 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; England 
7.
La boutique fantasque by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Rome, Italy 
8.
Coppélia by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; France 
9.
Sylvia by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; France 
10.
La source by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 
11.
La fille mal gardée by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Paris, France 
12.
La fille de Madame Angot by Charles Lecocq
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1872; Brussels, Belgium 
13.
Spartacus Suites: Excerpt(s) by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Stanley Black
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955-1967; USSR 
14.
Masquerade: Suite by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Stanley Black
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 
15.
Gayaneh: Suite by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Stanley Black
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USSR 
16.
Manon: Ballet music by Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
17.
Gaîté Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
18.
Faust: Ballet Music by Charles Gounod
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
19.
Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
20.
Cinderella, Op. 87 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940-1944; USSR 
21.
The Seasons, Op. 67 by Alexander Glazunov
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Russia 
22.
Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909-1912; France 
23.
Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
24.
La valse by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
25.
Aschenbrödel by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
26.
An der schönen, blauen Donau, Op. 314 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Vienna, Austria 
27.
Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Antal Doráti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
28.
Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Antal Doráti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 
29.
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Antal Doráti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 
30.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
31.
Les Patineurs by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837 
32.
Swan Lake, Op. 20 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
33.
Nutcracker, Op. 71 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
34.
Otello: Ballet Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
35.
Don Carlos: Ballet Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1884; Italy 
36.
I vespri siciliani: Ballet Music "The Four Seasons" by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; Italy 
37.
Aida: Grand March by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Italy 
38.
Aida: Ballet Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Italy 
39.
Pas de quatre by Cesare Pugni
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; London, England 
40.
Le papillon by Jacques Offenbach
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860; Paris, France 
41.
Pas classique by Daniel-François Auber
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Romantic 
42.
Les Rendez-vous by Daniel-François Auber
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
43.
Les Rendez-vous by Daniel-François Auber
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
44.
The Good-Humoured Ladies by Domenico Scarlatti
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 18th Century 
45.
Françoise de Rimini: Ballet music by Ambroise Thomas
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; France 

Featured Sound Samples

Invitation to the Dance (Weber)
Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev): Act I: Scene 2: Balcony Scene
Aschenbrödel (Strauss): Act I: Franz' Selbstporträt
Gayaneh: Suite (Khachaturian): Sabre Dance
The Firebird (Stravinsky): Finale

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