Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Swift, Vancouver Orchestra|
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Listen to Samples
Fascinating redisovery of rarely heard ballets
Bill Parker | Saint Paul, MN United States | 12/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The cleverness of the semi-palindromic title of this album is mirrored in the exceedingly original programming of its contents. You will be forgiven if you assumed this would turn out to be another run-through of excerpts from Giselle, Coppelia, or Les Patineurs. I certainly did so, and had to stare two or three times before I could believe it was actually nearly 70 minutes of music, a full hour of which I had never heard of, let alone heard. Even more unbelievable, it all revealed itself as wonderfully worthwhile, and caressing on the ear besides.
More than half the album is devoted to Henri Sauguet, whose music made me sick. Not because it wasn't good--it is!--but because my heart sank at the realization that if there is so much great music in the world that somebody this talented could be known only to a handful of connoisseurs, my fantasy of composing something worthwhile some day is hopeless since I couldn't begin to write this well. It was only a momentary regret, though, as I reminded myself of my good fortune in still having my hearing so that I can enjoy the fruits of those more gifted than I.
If you have any liking for romantic or neo-romantic ballet music, I dare you to slap on this disc and not be impressed. The opening (and longest) work is Les forains ("Fair Entertainers"), a 1945 bag of enchantments melodic and rhythmic, inspired by the travelling gypsy circuses of Sauguet's native Bordeaux. This is strongly profiled music, subtly colored, vigorous and charming, with a haunting undercurrent of melancholy. Immediately after hearing it I wanted to play it again. "Modern" in the general manner of Les Six, it is as readily assimilable as anything by Delibes or Adam. If not strongly original, neither is it weakly derivative. The language is conventional but the sentiments are not. Fascinating.
Two more balletic works by Sauguet-much shorter-are included, La nuit ("The Night") and La cigale et la fourmi ("The Cicada and the Ant"). Neither is as memorable as Les forains, but only by comparison.
So who was this guy? I remembered running across his name a couple of times over the years, but never paid any attention. For some reason I thought he was an avant-gardiste. Far from that, he was a pupil of Joseph Cantaloube, the suave orchestrator of folksongs from the Auvergne. He lived 1901-1989 and is spoken highly of in Grove's, where I betook myself for chastening.
Sauguet is the real find here, though the album is fleshed out pleasantly with a short piece by Guy de Ropartz (as he is normally called, though listed here as Joseph Guy Ropartz), an effective composer of the previous generation, just two steps to the left of Massenet; Two Aubades, seldom-heard pieces by the well-known Edouard Lalo, he of the Symphonie espagnole; and the fairly familiar Three Rag-Caprices of the "greatest" composer on the disc, Darius Milhaud, whose efforts contrasted to the others sound like the soundtrack to Psycho."