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My First Ballet Album

Tchaikovsky / Slovak Philharmonic Orch / Halasz
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8578205   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor StravinskyDarius MilhaudAlexander GlazunovSergei Prokofiev,   ... 
Conductor:  Alexander RahbariJean-Claude CasadesusOndrej LenárdTheodore Kuchar,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is one of a batch of CDs in a 'My First Album' series. Naxos founder Klaus Heymann declares this to be "one of our most important projects with music for children." The goal is that parents buy these "albums" for their young children and get them interested in real music before the omnipresent media ruthlessly drown it out with commercial pop. Maybe Heymann would not put it quite like that, but art music, driven to the peripheries of culture by neo-liberal globalisation and post-modernisation, certainly needs as many initiatives like this as it can Read more get, even to maintain its parlous position in the collective consciousness. What a pity these CDs are not given away by national health services to every new mother!
 
Each disc consists of around 15 to 25 pieces of music - bleeding chunks, to be sure - that have been specially selected (as they say) as a gentle but inspiring introduction to the subject matter: in this case ballet. Other volumes feature Tchaikovsky, the violin, the lullaby, ‘classical music’ and so on. Virtually all the music consists of single movements drawn from larger works, but throughout the series a few tracks are marked with the dread word 'extract': this usually means the music is ignominiously faded down like a pop song, which can only be counted as a black mark: if these CDs are to be "the ideal springboard for a lifelong journey through classical music", then surely children should understand from the outset that music is not meant to be faded? That full works are also frequently lengthy is not a lesson that will be learnt here either, with the average timing coming in under the three-minute mark, but that is something probably wisely left for older children. The two lengthier Tchaikovsky pieces on this disc at least point in the right direction.
 
The CD booklets are attractively designed with youngsters in mind. There’s a fairy-tale-style pencil/pastel drawing on the cover. There are many smaller colourful ones on every page - in this volume inevitably including a fair few ballerinas. Inside, after a brief introduction to the subject - 150 words or so - each item on the disc is allotted a 'Keyword', such as 'Cold', 'Fun', 'Yee-Ha!', 'Sword', 'March' or 'Pluck'. There’s then a paragraph of description, in straightforward language that should be intelligible to children as young as five or six, and unpatronising up to about ten or eleven. The texts enlarge on some of the things going on in the music, either as heard in the instruments or in the story itself. Generally there’s a mention of the mood of the piece and often the child is asked to listen out for something. There is usually at least one exclamation mark in every paragraph.
 
The blurb states that the booklet "is full of information on every piece of music", but that is a bit of an exaggeration. Most obviously, only the composer's surname is given in the main text, whereas first names - likely to be of interest to younger children - and dates of birth and death are relegated to the small print at the back of the booklet. Unfortunately, there is not even the most cursory of biographical note on any of the composers. The back of the booklet is the place to look too for details of performers, rightly judged to be of little importance to nascent listeners, but a necessary reference for parents wishing to delve further into the music, whether on their child's behalf or perhaps - why not - for themselves. The introductory to ballet says that "Here is some of the best music which has propelled dancers for hundreds of years" - a curious statement, given that the oldest item, Schubert's Rosamunde music, dates back only to 1823.
 
Although the topic is probably best left to sociologists, there is more than a faint whiff of gender stereotyping about some of the texts. For example, the description of Copland's Rodeo runs: "One of the cowgirls in this ballet is very lonely and so she goes to the party after the rodeo, wearing a beautiful dress: the cowboys all want to dance with her."
 
As far as the recordings themselves are concerned, it must be said that Naxos have drawn widely on the back catalogue bargain basement. Some are twenty years old or more and their age often shows itself in the quality of the audio, such as in the Andrew Mogrelia recordings. On the other hand, the intended audience is not hardcore audiophiles but children, who will probably not notice. Moreover, some recordings, like the Hoe-Down or Sabre Dance, have aged well. Still, there seems no obvious reason why Naxos did not use newer, better recordings - it is hard to see how there could be any copyright issues when all the music comes from their own releases.

It is commendable of Naxos to include a couple of more modern items - Stravinsky's Firebird's Dance and Shostakovich's Polka giving a digestible taste of dissonance, and Khachaturian's Sabre Dance giving some welly.
 
Asking a six-year-old to sit through seventy-five minutes of any music is a tall order, but in smaller doses the programme chosen here - "famous tracks as well as unexpected gems" - is probably interesting enough to keep children entertained, even if the Galop Générale from Adam's Giselle does seem a rather unmemorable choice to end the disc.
 
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Firebird: Dance of the Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
2.
Le boeuf sur le toit, Op. 58: Excerpt(s) by Darius Milhaud
Conductor:  Jean-Claude Casadesus
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
3.
The Seasons, Op. 67: no 4, Variation dansée de la glace [ice] by Alexander Glazunov
Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
4.
The Seasons, Op. 67: Summer - Waltz of the Cornflowers and the Poppies by Alexander Glazunov
Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1899; Russia 
Length: 2 Minutes 5 Secs. 
5.
The Seasons, Op. 67: Autumn - Bacchanale by Alexander Glazunov
Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Russia 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
6.
Cinderella Suite No. 1: 6. Cinderella goes to the ball by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Period: Modern 
Written: 1946 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
7.
Cinderella Suite No. 1: 7. Cinderella's Waltz by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
Period: Modern 
Written: 1946 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
8.
Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 11, Ballet music no 2 in G major - Excerpt(s) by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
9.
Gayaneh: Sabre Dance by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  André Anichanov
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942/1957; USSR 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
10.
Pétrouchka: Danse russe by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Robert Craft
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911/1947; Switzerland 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
11.
Romeo and Juliet Suite no 1, Op. 64a: no 5, Masks by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 4 Secs. 
12.
Romeo and Juliet Suite no 2, Op. 64b: Montagues and Capulets - Excerpt(s) by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935-1936 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
13.
Age of Gold Suite, Op. 22a: Polka by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Christopher Lyndon-Gee
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; USSR 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
14.
Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes - no 4, Hoe-down by Aaron Copland
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
15.
Swan Lake, Op. 20: Act 2 - Scčne by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
16.
Swan Lake, Op. 20: Act 2 - Valse by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 
17.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: no 18, Act 2 - Panorama by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
18.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: no 2, Act 1 - March of the Wooden Soldiers by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
Length: 2 Minutes 23 Secs. 
19.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a: no 3, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
20.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: no 12d, Act 2 - Russian Dance "Trepak" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 9 Secs. 
21.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: no 13, Act 2 - Waltz of the Flowers by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Michael Halász
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
Length: 6 Minutes 44 Secs. 
22.
Coppélia: Waltz by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
23.
Coppélia: Mazurka by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; France 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
24.
Coppélia: Marche de la cloche by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
25.
Sylvia: Pizzicati by Léo Delibes
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Written: 1876 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
26.
Giselle: Galop général by Adolphe Adam
Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Swan Lake, Op. 20: Act II By a Lake: No. 10. Scene: Moderato
Swan Lake, Op. 20: Act I The terrace in front of the palace of Prince Siegfried: No. 2. Valse
The Firebird Suite *: The Firebird Suite: II. Variation de l'oiseau de feu (Firebird Variation)
Coppelia: Act I: Valse
Coppelia: Act I: Mazurka
Coppelia: Act III: Marche de la cloche
Rodeo - 4 Dance Episodes: IV. Hoe Down
The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: Act II The Vision: Panorama (Andantino: The Awakening)
Le boeuf sur le toit, Op. 58: (excerpt)
Vremena goda (The Seasons), Op. 67: Winter: Ice
Vremena goda (The Seasons), Op. 67: Summer: Waltz of the Cornflowers and the Poppies
Vremena goda (The Seasons), Op. 67: Autumn: Bacchanale and Appearance of the Seasons (Winter - Spring - Bacchanalian Dance - Summer)
Cinderella Suite No. 1, Op. 107: VI. Cinderella Goes to the Ball
Cinderella Suite No. 1, Op. 107: VII. Cinderella's Waltz
Rosamunde, D. 797: Ballet Music No. 2: Andantino (excerpt)
Gayane Suite No. 2: Gayane: Sabre Dance
The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Act I Tableau 1: March
The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Act II Tableau 3: Variation 2: Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Act II Tableau 3: Divertissement: d. Trepak - Russian Dance
The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Act II Tableau 3: Waltz of the flowers
Petrushka (1948 version): Petrushka (1946 version), Tableau I: Russian Dance
Sylvia: Act III: Divertissement: Pizzicati
Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 1, Op. 64bis: V. Masks
Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Op. 64ter: I. Montagues and Capulets (excerpt)
The Golden Age Suite, Op. 22a: III. Polka: Allegretto
Giselle: Act I: Galop general

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