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I Love Ballet

I Love Ballet / Various
Release Date: 01/26/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 67020  
Composer:  Louis Ferdinand HeroldAram KhachaturianSergei ProkofievArthur Sullivan,   ... 
Conductor:  Barry WordsworthYuri TemirkanovAndré PrevinSir Charles Mackerras,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The immediate thing that struck me, as I unpacked this two-disc set, was the obvious indication that ballet is for women! The excessive “girlie” package, in different shades of pink, with a drawing of a ballerina in the middle of white stars of various sizes, nearly put me in a foul mood! I do not like stereotypes and I thought that in this our 21st century, people actually understood that ballet is an art-form, which appeals and can be appreciated by both sexes without discrimination. Judging by the packaging of the present compilation, I was wrong! Read more And now with that off my chest, I will actually write about this anthology entitled “I Love Ballet”.

The important thing to bear in mind when one listens to this set, is that it actually is completely irrelevant whether you love or hate ballet or whether you are male or female. The absolute star is the music. There is no better introduction to ballet music than Tchaikovsky’s marvellous score to Swan Lake, which forms tracks one to four of the first CD. This is followed by more Tchaikovsky with The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. What we have here are the ultimate highlights, the most inspiring and arguably the best pieces ever composed for the ballet and these were all written by Tchaikovsky. The extracts from the three ballet scores are beautifully performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the illustrious baton of composer and conductor, John Lanchery, who died in 2003. The music speaks for itself and if one is not moved by its dramatic, emotional power or its witty, magical moments, as for example the lovely Puss in Boots and the White Cat, from Sleeping Beauty; then I fear one has a heart of stone! The Tchaikovsky tracks represent the peak of this compilation, closely followed by the charming highlights of Delibes’s Coppélia, two magnificent passages from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and the most significant moments of Cinderella by the same composer. Coppélia is beautifully delivered by the Orchestre du Théàtre National de l’ Opéra de Paris, conducted by Jean-Baptiste Mari in a recording from 1977. The various parts of both Prokofiev ballets – Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella – are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra led by André Previn. The first is a recording from 1973, which I found a little dry, lacking sentimental intensity particularly in the balcony scene, though the orchestra’s performance is technically excellent. The second was recorded ten years later, in 1983, and is a very fine delivery by both conductor and orchestra.

There are some other pleasant, very popular moments from a series of celebrated pieces: Khachaturian’s famous Sabre Dance from Gayaneh; Saint-Saëns’ The Swan from Carnival of the Animals, choreographed, as The Dying Swan, by Mikhail Fokine for the fabulous Anna Pavlova who premiered it in 1905; and The Dance of the Hours, possibly known to most people from the wonderful sequence with the ballet-dancing hippos, ostriches, alligators and elephants in Walt Disney’s 1940 animated feature film Fantasia. The music was composed by Ponchielli and is from his opera La Gioconda. We are delivered here an excellent, energetic interpretation by Karajan with the Philharmonia, in a recording from 1961.

The quality of the compilation is sadly not uniform throughout. The best CD is the first with all the Tchaikovsky ballets, Delibes’s Coppélia and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Besides Cinderella and the famous, short pieces that I have mentioned above, CD 2 does not have many memorable moments. The obligatory passages from Adam’s Giselle and Delibes’s Sylvia are very fine indeed, particularly the latter where the excitement of the huntresses is wonderfully captured by Sir Charles Mackerras with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. However, I felt untouched and slightly let down by the performance of Chopin’s music in Les Sylphides and I was unable to relate to the Tales of Beatrix Potter and La fille mal gardée without actually having the dancers moving in front of me.

Overall, the sound quality is excellent and although some of the earlier recordings were remastered before, the whole compilation was digitally remastered once again with the technology available in 2009, which to my mind considerably increased the clarity of the music.

In spite of my initial disappointment with the exceedingly pink package, I Love Ballet is overall an attractive compilation of some very good music and other, slightly less good but pleasant enough. Above all, I think it is an excellent introduction to classical ballet music for beginners of all ages and at £8.50 for a two-CD set actually very good value for money.

-- Margarida Mota-Bull, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
La fille mal gardée: Excerpt(s) by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
2.
Gayaneh: Sabre Dance by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Yuri Temirkanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942/1957; USSR 
3.
Cinderella, Op. 87: Excerpt(s) by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940-1944; USSR 
4.
Pineapple Poll: Opening Dance by Arthur Sullivan
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1951 
5.
Tales of Beatrix Potter: Excerpt(s) by John Lanchbery
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
6.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
7.
Sylvia: Excerpt(s) by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; France 
8.
Les Sylphides: Excerpt(s) by Frédéric Chopin
Conductor:  Robert Irving
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
9.
Gaîté Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach
Conductor:  Manuel Rosenthal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
10.
La Gioconda: Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Italy 
11.
Giselle: Excerpt(s) by Adolphe Adam
Conductor:  Robert Irving
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
12.
Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Excerpt(s) by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
13.
Façade: Excerpt(s) by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; England 
14.
Coppélia: Suite by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Jean-Baptiste Mari
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opéra Comique Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; France 
15.
Swan Lake, Op. 20: Excerpt(s) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
16.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: Excerpt(s) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
17.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: Excerpt(s) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  John Lanchbery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 

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