Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky, Bonynge, National Philharmonic Orch|
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [Australia]
Excellent performance and sound, but there is a cut.
JPH | Crawley | 10/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I own three other Swan Lakes which are nicely played but perhaps lacked the very last ounce of balletic grace. I decided to make Bonynge's my fourth, and I was not disappointed. If you are acquainted with his many bel canto opera recordings with his wife, with the same NPO, you'd already know that Bonynge really knows how to make the most out of the light, bouncy, skipping rhythms in a Donizetti comic opera or in Offenbach's "Hoffmann". He brings that same quality of rhythmic catchiness and lilt to Tchaikovsky's score. This is one of the best Swan Lakes on disc, Bonynge's chosen speeds make his version far more danceable than Dutoit's --- which is more akin to a Berliozian symphonic poem. The NPO playing is breathtaking at times, and the sheer ardour of the string playing achieves the same genuinely "Tchaikovskian" timbre as normally heard from the Berlin Philharmonic strings. btw, the National Dances are particularly thrilling. A reservation would be that Bonynge's performance is more akin to a series of expertly characterized dance-pieces, rather than being the cogent well-structured symphonic realizations offered by Dutoit and Previn. However, Bonynge's is exactly the kind of accompaniment you would hear if you attended a performance of Swan Lake in the theatre. In this sense, it is the most realistic and "balletic" version on CD (other than Dorati's). The other minor reservation would be the peculiar sound of the over-enthusiastic cymbal playing. It is very prominent, resonant, and with lots of overhang. Did they hire a disgruntled cymbal-virtuoso, or was that Bonynge's infant child standing in?NB: The danse des coupes in Swan Lake has been cunningly abridged to free up space for the accomodation of the unnumbered Russian dance in Act III. So while all the numbers are included in this Swan Lake, making it "officially" complete, score-wise it actually isn't. Many casual listeners will not notice this, but if you are a ballet fan looking for a single complete recording of Swan Lake, Bonynge's version is out of contention. Performance-wise, it is 5 stars, but I withhold one for that nasty cut. The piece affected is one of the most thrilling dances in this ballet. A great pity! I'd rather Decca do what EMI did: omit a lesser number from Previn's "Swan Lake" in order to fit it onto 2 discs; instead of this cut-and-splice job."
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tchaikovsky's first ballet score, Swan Lake, is quite simply a masterpiece which revolutionized ballet music. Prior to Swan Lake the emphasis in ballet had been largely on the dancing and most ballet scores had only been expected to be rythmic dance accompaniments that were, if possible, also fairly tuneful. True, Adam's Giselle and Delibe's Coppelia rose considerably above such modest expectations. But with his score for Swan Lake Tchaikovsky made the music fully as important as the dancing. In fact he went further and created essentially a four act symphonic poem to accompany a spectacular ballet which could also be listened to and enjoyed on its own merits even by people uninterested in the dancing. This performance by Richard Bonynge is the greatest I've ever heard, fully worthy of Tchaikovsky's beautiful music. If you love great music, please get this oustanding CD set whether you are a ballet fan or not."