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British Ballet Music

British Ballet Music / Various
Release Date: 05/17/2011 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 49819   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Arthur SullivanLord BernersSir William WaltonSir Edward Elgar,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Charles MackerrasRobert IrvingLouis FrémauxSir Adrian Boult,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

An attractive compilation.

There are some old friends in this nicely nostalgic trawl through EMI’s back catalogue. The recordings date from the days of Robert Irving’s Covent Garden LP of 1956 to the most recent, which is Vernon Handley’s recording of Bliss’s Checkmate from 1978.

There are no sub-par recordings here, and newcomers will enjoy the selection, whilst old stagers can, if they’ve lost copies through attrition, reacquaint themselves. The running order starts with Mackerras’s Pineapple Poll orchestrations, and they remain a delight. If you’re coming afresh to this, remember that Mackerras did re-record the work many years later with the Philharmonia. What we have here is the
Read more earlier 1960 RPO LP version, more venerable, less well recorded but really just as delightful interpretatively. The theme of this twofer is the ballet, British ballets, and the names of Cranko, de Valois, Vic-Wells, Ashton, and Sadler’s Wells loom large. It was at the Vic-Wells that Berners’ A Wedding Bouquet was first seen and heard, and we hear the lively Tango and Waltz. Robert Irving directs this as he does the Sarabande and Orgy from Gavin Gordon’s The Rake’s Progress – the first evoking a rather lovely melancholy, the second brassy, and woozy. Malcolm Arnold might have appreciated it. And Irving is also on hand to do the honours for Lambert’s Gemini movement from Horoscope. I wish we’d had more from this fine conductor, and maybe his discs of pieces by Turina, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and many others will be heard again.

Checkmate was also first heard at in a Vic-Wells performance, in Paris in 1937, and is an assured masterpiece. Handley’s excellent recording holds up extremely well. Elgar’s Enigma Variations is here – a bit of a cheat this, really – because of the Ashton ballet production, first performed in 1968. Never mind, I’m not complaining. Boult finds the right tempi for pretty much everything and his noble reading has precision, gravity and stirring power. Frémaux’s Façade is a colourful and hugely attractive one, and reminds one tangentially of this excellent conductor’s work in Birmingham. And we also have André Previn chipping in with some Holst; the ballet music from The Perfect Fool, which is a one-act opera and therefore slips in under the radar, perhaps.

This is an attractive compilation, though obviously the big works are balanced by isolated movements from others, which may not be to everyone’s satisfaction. And of course none of the recordings is new; some are vintage 1956-60, but then that was something of a vintage time for recording standards.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pineapple Poll by Arthur Sullivan
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1951; England 
Venue:  No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 
Length: 43 Minutes 7 Secs. 
2.
A Wedding Bouquet: Tango and Waltz by Lord Berners
Conductor:  Robert Irving
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
3.
Façade: Fanfare by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Written: 1926, 1938 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 0 Minutes 32 Secs. 
4.
Façade: Scotch Rhapsody by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Written: 1926, 1938 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
5.
Façade: Suite no 1 - Swiss Yodeling Song by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1926; England 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
6.
Façade: Polka by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Written: 1926, 1938 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 1 Minutes 21 Secs. 
7.
Façade: Old Sir Faulk by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; England 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 2 Minutes 4 Secs. 
8.
Façade: Valse by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; England 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
9.
Façade: Suite no 2 - Popular Song by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1938; England 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
10.
Façade: Country Dance by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Written: 1926, 1938 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
11.
Façade: Tango-Pasodoble by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; England 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
12.
Façade: Tarantella Sevillana by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
Period: Modern 
Written: 1922-1927; United Kingdom 
Venue:  Bedworth Civic Centre 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
13.
Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 "Enigma" by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898-1899; England 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 26 Minutes 3 Secs. 
14.
The Rake's Progress: Sarabande and Orgy by Gavin Gordon
Conductor:  Robert Irving
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 9 Minutes 25 Secs. 
15.
Horoscope: 3. Valse for the Gemini by Constant Lambert
Conductor:  Robert Irving
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
16.
The Perfect Fool, Op. 39/H 150: Ballet Music by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  André Previn
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1922; England 
Venue:  No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 
Length: 0 Minutes 58 Secs. 
17.
Checkmate: Prologue - The Players by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 6 Minutes 41 Secs. 
18.
Checkmate: Dance of the Four Knights by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
19.
Checkmate: Entry of the Black Queen by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 5 Minutes 53 Secs. 
20.
Checkmate: The Red Knight's Mazurka by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
21.
Checkmate: Ceremony of the Red Bishops by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
22.
Checkmate: Finale - Checkmate by Sir A. Bliss
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 1 (1997 Digital Remaster): Opening Dance (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 1 (1997 Digital Remaster): Poll's Solo & Pas de deux (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 1 (1997 Digital Remaster): Belaye's Solo (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 1 (1997 Digital Remaster): Pas de trois (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 1 (1997 Digital Remaster): Finale (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 2 (1997 Digital Remaster): Poll's Solo (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 2 (1997 Digital Remaster): Jasper's Solo (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 3 (1997 Digital Remaster): Belaye's Solo & Sailors' Drill (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 3 (1997 Digital Remaster): Poll's Solo (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 3 (1997 Digital Remaster): Entry of Belaye with Blanche as Bride (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 3 (1997 Digital Remaster): Reconciliation (1997 Digital Remaster)
Pineapple Poll (1997 Digital Remaster), Scene 3 (1997 Digital Remaster): Grand Finale (1997 Digital Remaster)
A Wedding Bouquet: Tango & Waltz (2009 Digital Remaster)
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: I. Prologue: The Players
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: II. Dance of the Four Knights
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: III. Entry of the Black Queen
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: IV. The Red Knight's Mazurka
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: V. Ceremony of the Red Bishops
Checkmate - Ballet Suite T57: VI. Finale: Checkmate
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Fanfare (Vivo) (Suite II No. 1)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Scotch Rhapsody (Molto vivace) (II/2)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Swiss Jodelling Song (Lento) (I/3)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Polka (I/1)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Old Sir Faulk (Tempo di Fox-trot) (II/6)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Valse (I/2)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Popular Song (Grazioso) (II/5)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Country Dance (Allegretto piacevole) (II/3)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Tango-pasodoble (Lento) (I/4)
Façade - Two suites for orchestra (1987 Digital Remaster): Tarantella-sevillana (I/5)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): Theme (Andante)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): I. C.A.E. (the composer's wife) (L'istesso tempo)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): II. H.D.S.-P. ( Hew David Steuart-Powell) (Allegro)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): III. R.B.T. (Richard Baxter Townshend) (Allegretto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): V. R.P.A. (Richard Penrose Arnold) (Presto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): VI. Ysobel (Isabel Fitton) (Andantino)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): VII. Troyte (Troyte Griffith) (Presto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): VIII. W.N. (Winifred Norbury) (Allegretto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): IX. Nimrod (A. J. Jaeger) (Moderato)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): X. Intermezzo: Dorabella (Dora Penny) (Allegretto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): XI. G.R.S. (George Robertson Sinclair) (Allegro di molto)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): XII. B.G.N. (Basil G. Nevinson) (Andante)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): XIII. Romanza: * * * [Lady Mary Lygon] (Moderato)
Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op. 36 (2002 Digital Remaster): XIV. Finale: E.D.U. (the composer) (Allegro)
The Rake's Progress: Sarabande & Orgy (2009 Digital Remaster)
Horoscope: No.3 Valse for the Gemini (2009 Digital Remaster)
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Andante -
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Earth (Moderato - Andante) -
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Water (Allegretto)
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Fire (Allegro moderato)

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