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Leon Minkus - Paquita/La Bayadere
Leon Minkus, Boris Spassov, Sofia National Opera Orchestra
Leon Minkus - Paquita/La Bayadere
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (30) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Leon Minkus, Boris Spassov, Sofia National Opera Orchestra
Title: Leon Minkus - Paquita/La Bayadere
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Capriccio
Release Date: 3/5/1996
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Ballets & Dances, Ballets
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 018111054423, 182478198820, 4006408105442

CD Reviews

A gem for the dancer & ballet historian alike!
MrLopez2681 | USA | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an extremely important recording of ballet music by the Sofia National Opera Orchestra, under the experienced baton of the ballet and opera conductor Boris Spassov. For this recording, Spassov offers the famous extract from the ballet "La Bayadère", known as "The Kingdom of the Shades"; as well as the complete music added to Marius Petipa's 1881 revival of the 1846 ballet "Paquita" (the Grand Pas Classique, Mazurka des enfants and the Pas de trois). The composer of the majority of the music on this disc is Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917), who served as the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's official composer of ballet music from 1871 until its abolishment in 1886.

The music offered here is a wonderful piece of ballet history. The antiquated music of Minkus (and the other composers included on this disc) can easily transport the listener to the opulent hall of the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre during the twilight of the Russian Empire.

First we have the music for the scene "The Kingdom of the Shades" - an extract from the full-length ballet "La Bayadère", which premiered at the St. Petersburg Imperial Bolshoi Theatre in 1877. Minkus's glorious series of simple and melodious polkas, waltzes, etc. are perfect for ballet in every respect. The numbers for the scene consist of -

--Track 01 Sortie des bayadères
--Track 02 Valse lento
--Track 03 Entrée de Solor
--Track 04 Entrée de Nikiya (cadenza first played by the great violinist Leopold Auer)
--Track 05 Grand adage
--Tracks 06-08 Variations for 3 soloist shades
--Track 09 Variation de Nikiya (cadenza first played by the great violinist Leopold Auer)
--Track 10 Variation de Solor
--Track 11 Grand coda

Included among these tracks is a variation for Solor (Track 10) traditionally found in the ballet's Grand Pas classique. The variation was originally composed for Petipa's revival of Offenbach's "Le Papillon", which Minkus adapted for Petipa's expanded production of 1874. When Petipa revived "La Bayadère" for the last time in 1900, the Danseur Nikolai Legat inserted this solo into the Grand Pas d'action, and it has been retained ever since.

"Paquita" was originally created by Joseph Mazilier. It premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1846 with the legendary ballerina Carlotta Grisi in the title role. The ballet was first staged in St. Petersburg in 1847 by Petipa and Pierre Frédéric Malavergne. In 1881 Petipa produced a celebrated revival for the Prima ballerina Ekaterina Vazem. As was the custom of that time, Petipa added a classical novelty for the ballerina along with two other pieces which are offered here: Vazem's Grand Pas classique (Tracks 13-15 & 21-30), a Mazurka des enfants for children from the Theatre School (Track 12) in Act II, and a Pas de Trois for Act I (Tracks 16-20). The hardships brought about by the 1917 revolution caused much of the old Petipa works and revivals to become lost, among them, the full-length "Paquita". But by that time it had become tradition for Petipa's 1881 additions to be given during gala performances, and so these pieces survived in an independent form. In 2001, the complete "Paquita" was revived by the choreographer Pierre Lacotte for the Paris Opéra Ballet, though unfortunately he made no use of the Stepanov choreographic notation or the violin répétiteur of Petipa's production that is included in Harvard University's Sergeyev Collection. The violin répétiteur includes a few more pieces Petipa added, including an extra variation for the title character by Riccardo Drigo from Act I. Lacotte's revival of the ballet is available on DVD.

In 1896 the Prima ballerina Mathilde Kschessinskaya performed the lead in the "Paquita Grand Pas classique" at a gala at Peterhof in honor of Empress Catherine II. For the occasion, several of her fellow ballerinas participated as well by performing their favorite classical variations from other ballets. Ever since then it has become tradition for the Grand Pas classique to include an entire suite of solos. Just about every major ballet company in the world includes a version of the Grand Pas classique in their repertory, but what separates many of these stagings from one another is which combination of these extra variations are included. In modern stagings, the Grand Pas classique can include any combination of about 14 variations (11 for the women and 3 for the men). This disc includes only 8 out of the possible 14, which span tracks 21-29. Many of these variations are all that survive from whichever work they were extracted from, and really are valuable little pieces of ballet history unto themselves once one learns the details of their origins. To have them recorded here is a rare treasure indeed not only for the dancer but also for the ballet historian and musicologist. Unfortunately the liner note does not provide any information about these variations. My obsession with balletic archaeology has lead me to identify, as accurately as possible, the origins of all of these variations. Mind you, in some cases I had to sort of "put 2 & 2 together" by connecting information from various sources, the most significant of which I site below:
1. A complete Russian piano reduction I have of the Grand Pas classique prepared by Yuri Burlaka (current director of the Bolshoi Ballet and noted historian) that includes just about all of the extra solos.
2. The violin répétiteur of the Imperial Ballet's production of the full-length "Paquita". Today this répétiteur is part of Harvard University's Sergeyev Collection (it can be found online via HOLLIS). The répétiteur reflects the score as it was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre circa 1905. The Grand pas classique includes 5 variations, which seems to be the number performed in the context of the full-length ballet. It is significant to note that the great Anna Pavlova is listed as the ballerina performing the title role at the time that the répétiteur was created.
3. Theatre programme for the Bolshoi Ballet's 2008 reconstruction of the full Grand pas classique that utilized the Stepanov choreographic notation of the Sergeyev Collection.
4. Various films of the Grand Pas classique, such as the Bolshoi Ballet's recent reconstruction, Nikita Dolgushin's staging for the Maly/Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet in St. Petersburg, and Natalia Makarova's staging for American Ballet Theatre, among many others.

--Track 21 -by Riccardo Drigo (incorrectly credited to Delibes in the liner note). When the Italian Balletmaster Achille Coppini staged Arthur Saint-Léon's 1866 ballet "La Source" for the Mariinsky Theatre in 1902, Riccardo Drigo seems to have composed some additional pieces for the Delibes/Minkus score. Among these pieces was a Pas de deux that included this solo. Drigo's additional Pas de deux is still performed on occasion by the Vaganova Academy as part of their graduation gala under the title "The Stream" pas de deux, and mostly features Konstantin Sergeyev's choreography. The school erroneously credits the music to Delibes, and includes the character Taor's variation from Cesare Pugni's score for Petipa's "The Pharaoh's Daughter" as a solo for the male. Drigo wrote close to 100 additional pieces for a myriad of ballets throughout his career in Russia. He had a knack for imitating the style of the music so that his additional pieces would fit seamlessly into the already-existing score (this has made identifying the origins of some of the 'mystery' pieces from 19th century Russian ballet rather difficult). It is obvious that this solo was composed by Drigo in a Minkusoid fashion, with its orchestration for endless first violins and flutes with the brass pulsing the tempo, and leads me to conjencture that it was intended for Minkus's portion of the score for "La Source".
--Track 22 - by Ludwig Minkus, though often incorrectly credited to Cesare Pugni (the liner note spells the name 'Puni'). This variation is traditionally associated with the so-called Under-Water Scene from Arthur Saint-Léon's marvelous 1864 ballet "The Little Humpbacked Horse" (which Petipa revived in 1895 as "The Tsar Maiden" for Pierina Legnani). This variation found its way into "The Little Humpbacked Horse" during the Soviet-era. My 1864 piano reduction of Pugni's complete original score does not include it. Russian sources credit this solo as having been written by Minkus for the ballerina Anna Johansson (daughter of the legendary Danish teacher Christian Johannson) when she performed the role of the naiad Ondine in Petipa's 1892 revival of "La Naïade et le Pêcheur" (originally staged by Jules Perrot in 1843 as "Ondine, ou La Naïade" to the music of Cesare Pugni). Since Minkus had retired in 1886 and relocated to Vienna in 1891 this variation is likely from another one of his works.
--Track 23 -by Riccardo Drigo. One of the greatest ballets Marius Petipa ever staged was his 1868 "Le Roi Candaule" (known in Russian as "Tsar Candavl"), which combined both Plutarch and Herodotus's tale of how the shepherd Gyges usurped the throne of the Kingdom of Lydia from King Candaules via his Queen, Nyssia. Petipa revived the ballet in 1891 and made many changes to it in 1904. On both occasions Riccardo Drigo either refurbished and/or made additions to the score, which was originally written by Cesare Pugni. This variation was written for Anna Pavlova's performance in the ballet circa 1900, and is taken from the bathing scene of Act III-scene I in which queen Nyssia performs a solo to the sounds of her slave's harp. It appears that this solo was a favorite of Pavlova's, as it can be found among quite a few scores with her name listed on the page.
--Track 24 -by Alexei Papkov. This composer (who is curiously though incorrectly given the surname of Barmin in some sources) served as the Imperial Theatre's official ballet conductor until Riccardo Drigo took over in 1886. Papkov was known to compose pieces on occasion for various dancers, one of which is the solo included here. It appears that he wrote it for the ballerina Varvara Nikitina's performance in "Paquita" at some point in the early-to-mid 1880s. When Alexander Gorsky staged his version of Petipa's 1869 "Don Quixote" for the Mariinsky Theatre in 1902, this music was utilized for the Cupid character in the ballet's famous "Dream scene", and it has been retained ever since. Many modern stagings of the "Paquita Grand Pas classique" also retain this solo. The inclusion of the same variation in two different works has caused much confusion among dancers and balletomanes alike. Over time, this music has become erroneously credit to Minkus.
--Track 25 -by Nikolai Tcherepnin. This is the first varation of the Grand Pas d'action from Mikhail Fokine's "Le Pavillon d'Armide", originally staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1907. This is obviously a Soviet-era interpolation.
--Track 26 -by Riccardo Drigo. This is the variation that the majority of modern stagings of the "Paquita Grand Pas classique" give to the lead ballerina. It was originally composed by Drigo for the ballerina Varvara Nikitina's performance in the lead of Petipa's 1892 revival of Filipo Taglioni's original 1832 "La Sylphide". In Russia this solo is sometimes called the "Maxim Variation" due to its similarity to a little passage from the aria "O Vaterland (Da geh ich zu Maxim)" from Lehár's "The Merry Widow", specifically the passage "Da geh ich zu Maxim, Dort bin ich sehr intime". Drigo certainly wasn't stealing the tune; he and Lehár simply employed similar techniques to have thier characteristic affects with melodies. The music as presented here is slightly different from Drigo's original arrangement and with a slight variation on the main melody that makes the tune even more similar to Lehár's piece. Today one can only hear Drigo's original performed at the Mariinsky.
--Track 27 -by Yuli Gerber. This variation is taken from Gerber's score for Petipa's 1870 ballet "Trilby". Another solo taken from this work is the one danced by the male in "Le Corsaire pas de deux".
-Track 28 -by Alexei Papkov. Most stagings of the "Paquita Grand Pas classique" in Russia assign this music to a female dancer, while some western stagings assign it to the lead male. Two stagings of note that give this solo to the lead male are Nikita Dolgushin's staging for the Maly/Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet of St. Petersburg and Natalia Makarova's staging for American Ballet Theatre. The Harvard répétiteur credits this solo as being written for the ballerina Alexandra Shaposhnikova's performance in "Paquita", which means that it was created at some point in the early-to-mid 1880s. Shaposhnikova was the wife of the legendary Premier danseur Pavel Gerdt.
--Track 29 -by Ludwig Minkus. This variation, a polacca for solo violin, was written by Minkus especially for the great ballerina Ekaterina Vazem when she performed the title role in Petipa's 1881 revival of "Paquita". It is the bonafied original solo for the lead ballerina of the "Paquita Grand Pas classique". Because male dancers so rarely performed variations in those days, and due to the fact that Minkus likely did not compose any other variations for it, it's likely that this variation is the only solo that the "Paquita Grand Pas classique" was ever supposed to include!

The pas de trois (Tracks 16-20) is a popular piece in its own right, and has been performed outside of Russia in many versions, most notably by Balanchine for the New York City Ballet. It is often called the "Minkus pas de trois" regardless of the fact that most of the music isn't his. The Entrée (Track 16) is in 2 parts - the first being by Edouard Deldevez, the composer of the original 1846 score of "Paquita". Variation 1 and 2 (Tracks 17 & 18) are by Deldevez as well. The male variation (Track 19) is by Adolphe Adam, and comes from his score for Mazilier's 1845 ballet "Le Diable à quatre". Mikhail Baryishnikov used this variation in his production of "Don Quixote" for ABT as a variation for Basilio in the tavern scene. The coda (Track 20) is by Minkus.

Recently the Bolshoi Ballet's director Yuri Burlaka has re-staged the "Paquita Grand pas classique", Pas de trois, and Mazurka des enfants using the notation and of the Sergeyev Collection for a more historically informed staging. The production also restores most of the variations that are included in the Grand pas classique.

Boris Spassov, an experienced conductor of ballet performance, handles the music of "La Bayadère" and "Paquita" magnificently (see also his recording of Minkus's "Don Quixote", and his recording of excerpts from various ballets titled "Pas de Deux: the Ballet Experience"). Unlike the more famous recordings of these works by Richard Bonynge, this recording has Spassov handeling the orchestra exactly as it would be for a performance. As a former dancer, I know that Spassov's conducting of all of the music is first rate (so well in fact that one could use this recording for a live performance, if need be)."
Paquita and LaBayadere
kb | Houston, Texas, USA | 02/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have had this CD for about 4 years and love every song from both ballets. It can put you in a good mood. If you ever studied ballet, most of these songs will bring back memories. This music is good for dance, ice skating programs and even for working out. This is a must for your classical collection. Leon Minkus, his first name is debatable, is wonderful and all of his ballets are very dance-able. Hope that you injoy! KB"
K. Smith | 05/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This compact disc is practically perfect in every way. Great sound quality, instrumentation, and more! A wonderful gift for ballet students."