Search - Johann Strauss II :: Adam - Giselle (complete ballet) ~ Offenbach - Gaîté Parisienne ~ Strauss Graduation Ball / Fistoulari, Dorati

Adam - Giselle  (complete ballet) ~ Offenbach - Gaîté Parisienne ~ Strauss Graduation Ball / Fistoulari, Dorati
Johann Strauss II
Adam - Giselle (complete ballet) ~ Offenbach - Gaîté Parisienne ~ Strauss Graduation Ball / Fistoulari, Dorati
Genre: Classical
Giselle is the first of the great "classical" ballets, which is a bit confusing because all of the classical ballets date from the romantic period. What "classical" means in this context is a full-length theater piece in...  more »


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Giselle is the first of the great "classical" ballets, which is a bit confusing because all of the classical ballets date from the romantic period. What "classical" means in this context is a full-length theater piece in several acts that tells a coherent story. There were only two countries where this sort of entertainment became popular--France and Russia, and the great composers of classical ballet were, accordingly, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Prokofiev, Adam, and Delibes. Of course, there were many others, but they don't get played that often, for good reason. Giselle is a typical "fairy tale" ballet full of good tunes and nice, strong dance rhythms. It's not as great as Delibes or Tchaikovsky, but taken on its own terms, it's a good listen. This performance makes the music shine. --David Hurwitz

CD Reviews

The Living Art : Ballet At Its Best
Rachel Garret | Beverly Hills | 05/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Recorded in the 60's, Antal Dorati conducted this version of Giselle with unmatched success. Dorati was a fan of the dance-art, and had worked with the Paris Opera Ballet, the Monte Carlo Ballet and various American and European dance companies. The passionate, soulful and precise, artistic dedication he spent on his ballet scores were always impressive. The orchestra becomes a dynamic background to the footwork and leaps of physical movement from the dancers. Giselle is considered the first official ballet to many. It was certainly a trend setter. The Romantic movement of the early 19th century inspired writers and artists to leave behind their dull, worldy affairs and retreat into worlds of whimsy, romance and adventure. Adolphe Adam, the Paris-born composer of Giselle, based it from the novella by the German author Heinrich Heine, who wrote about a tragic love unfulfilled against the backdrop of the Black Forest, the Reine River and the elusive, terrifying night creatures called the Willis- jilted brides who dance long after their death as ghosts and lure men into their own deaths.Such intensity striked Adolphe Adam and with brilliant choreography by experts like Jules Perrot, he caused quite a sensation when he introduced it to the Paris Opera ballet. It was an instant beloved classic. The signature women in white tutus, which would later be used in Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" originates in the dance of the Willis. Giselle is a beautiful peasant girl, with a nearly unhealthy fondness for dancing and daydreaming. Like most girls of the 1840's, Giselle dreams of a handsome prince who would rescue her from living in rustic squalor. The dashing hunter Albrecht is in fact a prince in disguise. But apparently, he was seeking love and adventure outside the dull, loveless and conventional society in his immediate royal family. He does fall in love with Giselle, but must compete with the likes of Hilarion, a village man who also desires Giselle for his wife. It is discovered that Albrecht is not only a prince, but an engaged man. This sends the heartbroken Giselle into madness and she dies.And that's only Act 1 ! Remember, the dead are not as they seem. This is especially true for the bride-ghosts, the Willis. They have initiated Giselle as one of them, their hordes lead by the sinister Queen Myrtha. When Albrecht and Hilarion come to pay homage to the fallen Giselle at her tomb, the Willis appear and entrap them. Hilarion is killed. But only upon Giselle's intervention is Albrecht saved. The bittersweet, tragic ballet is beautiful to behold years later, eventhough the musical score, tailor-made to fit the primitive techniques of the Paris Opera ballet. It is this light, lush music that makes it a capsule for a time in history that ballet lovers surely revel in recalling. This is also the time of the paintings by Edgar Degas.
Antal Dorati brings Giselle alive once again fresh from the 60's and enjoyable today. All ballet fans have to start from here."
The most satisfying Giselle on disk
Classic Music Lover | Maryland, USA | 04/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let's start by getting a few facts straight on the other reviews. Anatole Fistoulari and the LSO perform the Giselle on this CD, while Antal Dorati and his Minneapolis forces are the ones reponsible for the Graduation Ball and Gaite Parisienne. Starting with Giselle, Fistoulari turns in the most satisfying account of this work to be found on CD today. It's true that other "complete" recordings include about 20 to 25 minutes of additional music, but one wonders how much of this material was originally intended for this ballet -- or actually composed by Adam at all? There's a bit of mystery surrounding the Paris Opera Ballet orchestral parts, as lots of changes and modifications were made over the years. When Fistoulari made this recording back around 1960, he used the complete score then in use in Paris. When I compare it to others, I find that the additional music in the other recordings is pretty boring stuff compared to the inventiveness and charm of the rest of the music. Moreover, the orchestration is much more effective here -- particularly in the percussion department and the use of brass. Another very important difference is the ending of the ballet, which has been altered in more recent renditions to include a soft fadeout of music whereas the original has an orchestral flourish that corresponds with the final curtain drop; the new approach is HUGELY unsatisfying. Veteran ballet conductor that he was, Fistoulari has a natural flair for this music and is more successful than so many other conductors like Zhuraitis, Mogrelia and Michael Tilson Thomas. Bonynge on Decca gives Fistoulari a good run for his money, and that version would be the one to buy if you really want to hear all of the (pretty forgettable) extra music that's attributed to this ballet score. The London Symphony is in top form for Fistoulari, and Mercury's original three-channel stereo recording has ultra-realistic orchestral depth and bloom like you wouldn't believe.

Another veteran conductor from the ballet pits, Antal Dorati directs a sinewy, frenetic Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in the Gaite Parisienne and the Graduation Ball numbers. For once, a full symphony orchestra actually sounds like a pit band -- and you really do feel like you're experiencing an actual ballet performance. Dorati himself arranged the score for Graduation Ball for the Ballet Russes back in the late 1930s. Here as well, there are two versions of the score ... and the one done here is the better of the two (Dorati made an earlier recording with the Dallas Symphony, and later recorded the alternate version, as did Bonynge and several others ... I find this reading more exciting than these alternatives). The Gaite Parisienne score is cut by about 15 minutes ... and Arthur Fiedler and Eugene Ormandy have done the complete score better anyway. You can also hear this music performed by the arranger Manual Rosenthal -- but by all means avoid his last recording (of three) which he made in his 90s for Naxos, released a year or two before his death ... that one is just WAY too slow."
A Ballet Lover's Dream
Rachel Garret | 08/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Antal Dorati, who was the greatest interpretor of ballet music (especially that of Tchaikovsky ballet) proves that he is equally masterful on the dance music on this cd. Giselle, by Adolphe Adam, is regarded as the very first Romantic ballet, complete with a strong story and characterization. The primitive music of the period is evident, but if you truly like the hidden notes and the tragic love story the music tells, you will overlook this. Giselle is about a young woman who falls madly in love with Albrecht, a prince who is in fact engaged to another woman. Giselle dies before the close of act one and in the second act, she has become a spirit of the night. The rest of the story is as heartbreaking and dismal as any Gothic romance novel. As for Offenbach's Gaite Parisienne, the charming French cabaret atmosphere is delightfully rendered by Dorati. Offenbach was after all the greatest French Belle Epoque composer, whose operettas have delighted people worldwide and serve as a reminder of a leisure-class lifestyle so far from our own. Graduation Ball by Johann Strauss is a bubbly ballet about young girls dancing with men at a graduation/prom sort of deal. This is definately a must if you like ballet or simply Dorati's artistry."