Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Riccardo Drigo, Ludwig Leon Minkus, Tchaikovsky|
Pas De Deux
Too much Chaikovsky... not enough Minkus
MrLopez2681 | 09/04/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This particular ballet gala cd (an excellent if repetitive series) is quite good in giving a general spectrum of 19th century ballet music. Unfortunately there is too much Chaikovsky on it. While this is probably the best recording of the Bluebird pas de deux available we've all heard it before. Showcasing less well-known composers would have been more interesting. The highlight of the cd is the Bellini-like Esmerelda pas de deux which is played with spirit as are all the recordings on this cd."
A Marvelous Suite of Ballet Music Conducted by Richard Bonyn
MrLopez2681 | USA | 10/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Starting with his first recording of ballet music, the 1962 LP "The Art of the Prima Ballerina", the renowned conductor Richard Bonynge pioneered recording important yet obscure ballet music so often neglected from recorded performance. For his 1964 follow up to "The Art of the Prima Ballerina", Bonynge chose to record music for the 'Pas de deux classique' in an LP titled "Pas de Deux". Equally important recordings of rare ballet music followed, and in 1992 these recordings were digitally mastered and re-released by the label Decca/London for the 7-disc series titled "Ballet Gala", which included such discs as Art of Prima Ballerina ; "Homage to Pavlova"; "Invitation to the Dance"; "Ballet Music from Opera"; "Massenet: 'Le Cid', Meyerbeer: 'Les Patineurs'"; and "Adam: 'Le Diable à quatre'; Ballet Music & Entr'actes". As with most important recordings of obscure ballet music on CD, the "Ballet Gala" series went out-of-print in 1996. Fortunately the label Decca/London compiled a great deal of Bonynge's ballet recordings for the 10-disc boxed-set "Fête du Ballet" in 2001 (see Decca 468 578-2).
The first piece presented in this suite is the famous "Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux" taken from the 1869 ballet "Don Quixote". The ballet was created by the great choreographer Marius Petipa, unrivaled Balletmaster of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, and set to the music of the composer Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917), who from 1871 until 1886 held the post of 'Ballet Composer to the St. Petersburg Imperial Theates'. This pas was originally a 'Pas de quatre' with a variation for Kitri to a solo violin that is no longer performed. The music offered here is in an arrangement by Peter March (founder of the Tchaikovsky Foundation). His arrangements are adequate, though somewhat boring. His treatment of the so-called 'Fan variation' is awful. It was originally arranged for solo harp, but March gives the principal melody to an out-of-place flute. This famous variation was actually written by Riccardo Drigo (1846-1930) for the great Ballerina Mathilde Kschessinskaya in 1902, when she danced in Alexander Gorsky's staging of "Don Quixote" at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. It seems that the 'Fan variation' is based on the harp solo of the 'Variation de la Reine du jour' from Minkus's score for Petipa's "Nuit et jour", a ballet produced in 1883 for the corornation of Tsar Alexander III. It is likely that a piano reduction was all that March had to work with when orchestrating this pas de deux - for many years all that was available of Minkus's music beyond the iron curtain was a piano reduction. Bonynge's conducting is rather good. (NOTE - see CD Capriccio 10 540-41 for a recording of "Don Quixote" conducted by Boris Spassov w/ the Sofia Natn'l Opera Orch., as well as CD Naxos 8.557065-66 conducted by Nayden Todorov again with the Sofia Nat'l Opera Orch. Both recordings are of the score of "Don Quixote" in Minkus's orignal hand and offer the same music. Though they are not 100% complete with regard to Minkus's original score, they do contain most of the later interpolations by other composers for the revivals of Gorsky (1900 and 1902) and Zarakhov (1949). Another recording of Minkus's "Don Quixote" is of John Lanchbery's well known re-orchestrations/adaptations for Rudolf Nureyev's 1973 revival for the Australian Ballet.
Next is the so-called "Blue Bird Pas de deux" from the 3rd Act of Petipa's 1890 ballet "The Sleeping Beauty", set to Tchaikovsky's magnificent music. For the most part Bonynge conducts the music exactly as it would be for the stage, with the exception of the 'coda', performed by the orchestra at an extremely rushed tempo, making the Bluebird's required brisé volés impossible.
Another Tchaikovsky number follows, this time the 'Grand Pas de Deux' from the 1892 ballet "The Nutcracker". Bonynge does a fine job conducting as does the orchestra playing, but, as with the inclusion of the "Blue Bird Pas de Deux", I find this a useless addition to this recording, being that there are over a zillion different recordings of Tchaikovsky's ballets. Bonynge's conducting is first rate, but unfortunatly the allegro ending of the famous 'Variation of the Sugar Plum Fairy' is cut.
For the 4th selection we have an excerpt from Joseph Mazilier's 1846 ballet "Paquita". The piece offered here is taken from Marius Petipa's 1881 revival of the work, for which the Balletmaster added new numbers by Ludwig Minkus, including an elaborate 'Grand pas classique' for the last act that has become a popular repertory piece in its own right with ballet companies all over the world. Unfortunately we have, yet again, another tedious reorchestration of Minkus's music. The origins of this particular arrangement are rather interesting - for decades the only material available outside of Soviet Russia of Minkus's 'Grand pas classique' was of a version prepared for the touring company of Anna Pavlova. Whomever was responsible for this orchestration is not known by me, though it was likely one of Pavlova's musical directors. Peter March later expanded on this arrangement, and what is offered here by Bonynge is this version of the music.
Pavlova often performed the 'Grand pas classique' from "Paquita" as a 'pas de deux': in light of the small size of her company, not to mention the fact that she would not allow any other ballerina to perform a solo during her company's performances, Pavlova omitted the suite of additional variations. In fact Petipa's original 1881 staging of the 'Grand pas classique' from "Paquita" only included 1 variation for the lead ballerina, and possibly a 1 variation for the lead male, though I have never been able to identify it. A gala performance held at Peterhof in 1896 in honor of Empress Catherine II was the occasion that gave rise to the tradition of having the 'Grand pas classique' contain an entire suite of additional variations for a string of ballerinas - the Imperial Ballet's 'Prima ballerina assoluta' Mathilde Kschessinskaya danced the "Paquita Grand Pas Classique" at this gala, and for the occasion she invited many of her fellow danseuses to participate in the performance by dancing their favorite variations from various ballets, and the tradition has remained to the present day. So, what is called the "Paquita Pas de Deux" in this recording is merely the "Paquita Grand pas classique" without all of these additonal solos.
Those familiar with the music of the "Paquita Grand pas classique" will notice that the ending of the 'Coda generale'/'finale' includes an extended finale in this recording. Since Pavlova often included the "Paquita Grand pas classique" at the end of her shows, she had the music for the finale extended to accompany her troupe while they took their bows. Recorded here is the 'Entrée'; 'Grand adage'; 'Grand ballabile'; Variation-1 (a waltz - various stagings of the "Paquita Grand pas classique" assign this solo to the lead male of the pas, while some Russian stagings assign it to a female. The variation is by Alexei Papkov, originally composed for the ballerina Alexandra Shapashnikova's performance in "Paquita") Variation-2 (a polacca for solo violin. This variation is the bonafied original solo for the lead ballerina of the pas, written by Minkus in 1881 for the ballerina Ekaterina Vazem) and finally the 'Coda générale'. Note - Bonynge made a second recording of the "Paquita Grand pas classique" in 1988 for the double CD titled "Ballet Gala". This recording includes four additional variations which are not offered here.
The next 'pas de deux' is perhaps the most rare and wonderful piece included in this entire suite. It is the 'pas de deux' from the ballet "La Esmeralda", which in recent years has become a rather popular piece on the gala and competition circuit. I have seen many young danseuses performing the so-called "tambourine variation" from this pas de deux at ballet competitions, and nearly all of them use this recording. "La Esmeralda" was originally created by the Balletmaster Jules Perrot at Her Majesty's Theatre in London in 1844 to the music of Cesare Pugni (1802-1870), and the ballet was considered to be among Perrot and Pugni's supreme masterworks. The ballet was staged for many opera houses throughout Europe, the most important being Perrot's 1848 staging in St. Petersburg where he would soon be engaged as Balletmaster. "La Esmeralda" was revived many times after by Marius Petipa once he succeeded Perrot. He staged his final revival of thr ballet in 1899 for Mathilde Kschessinskaya (it is significant to note that Petipa's choreography for this revival was notated at the turn of the 20th century, and these notations are now held in the Sergeyev Collection at Harvard University. However, I am not sure just how detailed these notations are). Petipa's definitive version of "La Esmeralda" was mounted for the visiting italian ballerina Virginia Zucchi in 1886. As was tradition at that time, a novelty was added for the ballerina, this being the famous "La Esmeralda Pas de six" to new music by Riccardo Drigo, who also completely refurbished Cesare Pugni's original score. I have no doubt that it was Zucchi who inserted the famous "Tambourine variation" into the ballet, which is actually taken from Romualdo Marenco's score for the choreographer Luigi Manzotti's ballet "Sieba, ou La Spada di Wodan", originally staged at La Scala in 1878. Before making her way to St. Petersburg, Zucchi performed "Sieba" while touring Europe, and in the old operatic tradition of the "suitcase aria" she must have brought this "Tambourine variation" with her to Russia. I am not entirely certain about the orgins of this 'pas de deux' as a whole, which is likely a late Imperial or early Soviet-era pastiche, typical of the time. The origins of the Entrée and adage are unknown to me, but they are obviously the work of Riccardo Drigo. The adage is very odd indeed, as it seems far more suited to a 'Scène dansante' rather than a 'pas classique'. The variation recorded here for the female is, of course, the interpolated variation to the music of Marenco. The Coda recorded here is taken from Cesare Pugni's score for Petipa's 1862 ballet "The Pharaoh's Daughter", being an extraction from a passage that the published piano reduction of Pugni's score titles as the "Marche et scène du Pharaon et du Roi de Nubie". The music for the male is taken from Pugni's original score for "La Esmeralda".
The music recorded here by Bonynge for the "La Esmeralda Pas de Deux" is again presented in a reorchestration by Peter March, likely due to the fact that at the time this recording was produced all that was available of this 'pas de deux' outside Soviet Russia was of a piano reduction. With regards to choreography, the traditional version of this peice is not by Petipa, but by the choreographer Ben Stevenson. It was created for the dancers Janie Parker and William Pizzuto when they entered the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi in 1982. Note - there is another, far superior recording of this 'pas de deux' included on a disc titled "The Ballerinas" (1985. Amreco, Inc./MusicMasters MMD 60097A. 1 CD), being the only other recording ever produced of the "La Esmeralda Pas de deux". The music is offered in an uncredited reorchestration, but it sounds as though it is the work of John Lanchbery.
The following 'pas de deux' is known in the world of ballet simply as "Grand Pas Classique". The music comes from Daniel Auber's opera-ballet "Le Dieu et la Bayadere" and his ballet "Marco Spada". The dance sections for this work were choreographed by Filippo Taglioni for his daughter, the legendary Marie. In 1949 the choreographer Victor Gsovsky extracted various pieces from Auber's score for the 'pas de deux' recorded here, and proceeded to choreograph a wonderfully academic and flashy piece for the Ballerina Yvette Chauvire and the Danseur Vladimir Skouratov. The pas has since become a show-piece danced by many companies around the world. Bonynge handles the music well for the most part, but he conducts the music for the female variation entirely to fast. No ballerina could ever perform the traditional choreography to such a rushed tempo.
Thanks to Knud Arne Jurgensen's wonderful article "Is the 'Flower Festival Pas de Deux' by Bournonville and Paulli?" from the Autumn 1994 issue of Dance Research, I have been able to learn that the so-called "Flower Festival at Genzano Pas de deux" is just as much a pastiche of sources as most of the 'pas de deux' which make up today's popular ballet repertory. Its true origins lay in an 1856 staging at the Karnthnerthor Theatre in Vienna of Bournonville's 1842 ballet "Napoli". For this production, the dancer Lorenzo Vienna - who performed the principal male role of Gennaro - created a 'pas de deux' for the third act to new music by the austrian composer Matthias Strebinger (1807-1874). Bournonville apparently liked the piece so much that he added it to his 1858 ballet "The Flower Festival at Genzano", and the composer of that work, Holger Simon Pauli (1810-1891) adapted Strebinger's music accordingly for the new staging. Since Pauli composed the score for "The Flower Festival at Genzano", a score which also included music by Eduard Helsted (1816-1900), the music for the "Flower Festival at Genzano Pas de Deux" has often been credited to one or both composers in modern programs, films, etc. The next composer to have a substantial hand in this piece is Adolphe Adam (1803-1856), who is certainly responsible for the music of the male variation in triple time. This piece is actually taken from his score for Joseph Mazilier's ballet "Le Diable à quatre", staged for Carlotta Grisi at the old Paris Opéra in 1845. Just how exactly Adam's variation ended up in this 'pas de deux' is mystery to me. Bonynge does a fabulous job with the music for this piece, with the orchestra playing the music exactly as it would be for the stage.
The final addition is the so-called "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux", in an orchestration by John Lanchbery (1923-2003), the conductor/composer who acheived notoriety in the ballet world with his controversial adaptations/orchestrations of Minkus's scores. The famous "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" has a colorful and complicated history which has nothing to do with Petipa, the choreographer so often erroneously credited with its creation. "Le Corsaire" had its premiere in 1856 at the Théâtre de l'Académie Impérial de Musique, and was brought to the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg by the Balletmaster Jules Perrot in 1858 (with assistance from Marius Petipa), where it became, and remained, one of the most popular works in all the repertory. Marius Petipa revived the ballet on several occasions during his long career, his last revival being in 1899 for Pierina Legnani.
"Le Corsaire" was given a new production at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1915. For the occasion a new 'Pas d'action' was created by the balletmaster Samuil Andrianov (noted teacher of the young Balanchine). This is the number we now call the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux". It was originally staged as a 'Pas d'action' for 3 dancers (as in modern stagings of the full-length work), and was first danced by Tamara Karsavina as Medora, Andrianov as Conrad, and Mikhail Obukhov as a suitor (the suitor would be later be replaced in Soviet times by a new character known as the 'Rhab', Russian for 'slave'. Pyotr Gusev's 1955 revival for the Maly in Leningrad would name this character Ali, and give him a more prominent role in the rest of the ballet). Although modern programs and films almost always credit the music for the "Le Corsaire Pas de deux" exclusively to either Adam or Drigo, the piece in fact contains the music of 3 composers - the opening balletic 'adage' was set by to a nocturne by Drigo titled "Dreams of Spring" (the solo for clarinet and the sustaining arrangement in Drigo's original orchestration create a sound that is very much suggestive of this title). The male variation, which is today danced by all danseurs in the piece, was taken from the composer Yuli Gerber's score for Petipa's 1870 ballet "Trilby". Karsavina's variation, which is still traditionally danced in the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet's edition of the full-length "Le Corsaire", was taken from the composer Baron Boris Fitinhof-Schell's score for the 1893 Petipa/Ivanov/Cecchetti ballet "Cinderella". The 'coda' is said to be by Drigo, but it sounds to me as though it is the work of Pugni, though I do not know from what work.
With regards to choreography, the 1915 'Pas d'action' (or 'Pas de deux a trois' as it is so often referred to today) went through a galaxy of revisions in Soviet times - it was Agrippina Vaganova who turned the piece into a duet in 1931 for the graduation performance of Natalia Dudinskaya, partnered by Konstantin Sergeyev, thus transforming it into the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux". The male dancing went through changes throughout the 1930s and 40s by the great virtuoso danseur Vakhtang Chabukiani, who added in much of the male dancer's famous athletic elements (it was throughout this time that the suitor became the 'Rhab', and thus the choreography changed even more).
Rudolf Nureyev staged the "Le Corsaire Pas de deux" for the first time in the west in 1961 for himself and Margot Fonteyn (the cover sleeve of the orignal LP release of this recording has a picture of Nureyev and Fonteyn dancing the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux"). For his staging, Nureyev had the "original" music re-orchestrated by the Royal Opera House conductor John Lanchbery (1923-2003), likely because the only manuscript of the score available in the west at that time was of a piano reduction. Nureyev had performed the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" for the first time in Russia in 1958 with Alla Sizova for thier graduation performance (there is a famous film of this performance). For her performance, Sizova substituted the traditional variation which was danced by Karsavina in 1915 for the 'Variation de la Reine des Dryades' from the so-called "dream-scene" from Alexander Gosky's revival of "Don Quixote". Nureyev also utilized this same variation for Fonteyn when he staged the "Le Corsaire Pas de deux" in 1961. Though it is widely believed that this variation is by Minkus, it is really the work of the composer Anton Simon (1850-1916).
Here, Bonynge has recorded the Lanchbery revision of the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" as staged by Nureyev. He does a wonderful job conducting, particularly in the opening adage. The variations are mostly conducted exactly as they would be for the stage, the exception being the last section of the female variation (usually at this point the Ballerina will be performing her so-called 'Italian-fouettes') which is conducted entirely to slow. Musically I would rather hear this Pas de Deux in its original orchestration, but Lanchbery's orchestrations are nonetheless entertaining. (Note - There are only 2 recordings of the "Le Corsaire Pas de deux" with the much sought-after variation in polka time still danced by the Kirov/Mariinksy Ballet (most of the time) when the pas is performed, and also in American Ballet Theatre's 1999 staging of the full-length work. It is presented in Lanchbery's re-orchestrations by Terence Kern and the Orchestra of the London Festival Ballet. See CD Angel "Ballet Gala" 5-69089-2 out-of-print. The other is the recording titled "Musiques pour les Ballets de Marius Petipa", available on the label Accord, with the "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" presented in its original orchestration.)
For those who have long wanted to get a hold of this disc, and don't feel like paying the absolutely ridiculous prices that some sellers are asking for it, remember, as was said above, all of the music included in Bonynge's "Ballet Gala" series has since been included in the 10 CD set "Fete du Ballet"."
A package deal of famous ballet music
Kimberly Seibel | Georgia, USA | 11/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this CD because it gives you some of the most famous ballet music all on one CD. As a ballet student, I have used it many times for rehearsing the variations or just remembering them. The recordings are very good as well."