WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Les Ballets Russes Vol 7 - Music Of Georges Auric

Auric / Drpsk / Poppen
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Swr Music   Catalog #: 93265   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georges Auric
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

AURIC Les Fâcheux. La Pastorale Christoph Poppen, cond; Saarbrücken German RPO HÄNSSLER 93.265 (67:21)

Continuing its series of ballet scores written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Hänssler has turned from the more common scores of Stravinsky, Debussy, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Falla, and Ravel to the far more esoteric music of Georges Auric. The notes make it clear that these scores were not as popular as the one that came between them, Les Read more Matelots (1925), but no matter. Auric was a fascinating and original composer, and both scores exude a richness of invention characteristic of him—something like a cross between Satie and Poulenc.

It’s a shame that, as annotator and series producer John Neumeier puts it, modern ballet reviews focus very little on the music whereas reviews of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo spent a great deal of time discussing it, but at what other time were there so many new and challenging scores being presented to the public? Excepting such adaptations of non-ballet music for dance purposes as the Weber-Berlioz Invitation to the Dance (for La Spectre de la Rose ) and Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, the Ballets Russes was all about controversial, non-traditional ballet music and choreography. The more formulaic, predictable style of Petipa and his colleagues went out the window. A dynamic and oftimes objectivist presentation of ballet was the driving force of Diaghilev and his troupe, and so it was only in the occasional forays into equally controversial ballet productions by Balanchine in later years that the music was mentioned at all. We have, sadly, since gone back into our little box, or comfort zone, of ballet, where only the daring of some bizarre and eccentric choreographer excites any new interest. The scores we dance to nowadays, with a few exceptions, are not daring.

Auric’s Les Fâcheux, adapted from Molière’s comédie-ballet by librettist Boris Kochno, was given to Bronislava Nijinska, Vaclav Nijinsky’s sister, to choreograph. Kochno made heavy weather of the costumes, which were exceedingly heavy with long wigs, which made the dancers suffer, and Nijinska choreographed the ballet without consulting Kochno at all, modifying the mannered poses she saw in old prints and patterns of movement from the period of Louis XIV. Two years after the premiere, Diaghilev revived the ballet with entirely new choreography by Léonide Massine, which worked much better. It’s a pity, because Auric’s score—modern and bearing little or no resemblance to 18th-century scores—is colorful and imaginative, a continuous 28-minute ballet of stunning color and musical invention.

La Pastorale (1926) also paired Massine and Kochno, using sets painted by young Pedro Pruna, introduced to Jean Cocteau by Picasso and recommended to Diaghilev. For some reason Massine backed out of the project, forcing Diaghilev to take on a 22-year-old refugee dancer-choreographer named George Balanchine. From this very first ballet Balanchine was innovative and controversial, adding certain acrobatic steps from the circus, which confused and riled the purists in the audience. Again, Auric’s score took a back seat to controversy, but again it was marvelous and original, this time broken into a prelude and 12 scenes. Bright sonorities and humorous rhythms combine with musical ideas that constantly push the tonal center to its edges or beyond. It’s truly a crime that Auric is not better known than he is.

This is the second CD in this series that I’ve reviewed (Michael Gielen’s magnificent Daphnis et Chloé was on Vol. 2, Hänssler 93.197), and if these two discs are any indication, this is a heck of a set. I’m not sure why there are two performances of Stravinsky’s Le Chant du Rossignol in the series (one each on Vols. 4 and 5), though they may be different editions. This one is very fine, perhaps not as inspired as Gielen’s Ravel, but on a very high level and certainly of a good tempo for dancing. I’m not sure if these are the only recordings of these works ever made, but they’re certainly the only ones commercially available. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

Les Facheux by Georges Auric
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
La pastorale by Georges Auric
Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title