This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Richard Bonynge's realization is excellent in every respect... he draws the diverse threads of the score together with a degree of expertise acquired from a lifetime of involvement with music of this nature.
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
Works on This Recording
Le corsaire by Adolphe Adam
English Chamber Orchestra
Written: 1855; France
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