"Antal Dorati was a ballet and symphony conductor in the 50's and 60's. He was prolific, dedicated and masterful. He had conducted ballets in Monte Carlo, Paris and other European theaters. His interpretation of Tchaikovsky music is what stands out the most. It is no wonder, then, that the musical score to Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" is top-notch. This cd is a classic. It has the entire score, without missing a single note or scene, finely re-issued from the old LP in the 60's. Antal Dorati takes the baton and the orchesta strikes up the ever famous Overture. Dark, majestic, exciting, it is the theme used for the swans. Everyone who knows ballets knows the story. It is full of heartache, passion, romance and brilliant music. At the time of its premiere, it was uniquely modern. Tchaikovsky's music to this ballet was not light, sugary or merely danceable. It was complex, full of rich color and sophisticated characterization. The ballet was even considered a flop for its symphonic make-up. Nowadays, we appreciate the fine music it really is. It is rich, full of melody and drama, appropriately light in certain places (the Czardas, Mazurka and other dances) to sad (Odette's solos on violin and cello) and finally, dramatic and tragic- the finale. The world of fantasy is suddenly convincing. Based on a German fairy tale, it tells the story of an evil wizard (Rothbart) who puts a dark spell on a princess (Odette) and turns her into a swan by night. A handsome prince named Siegfried (no surprise there) is hunting and discovers the swan/princess. He falls in love wit her. In some versions, Odette and Siegfried's romance is fulfilled and the ending is happy. But in its true essence and as Tchaikovsky envisioned, the ending must be tragic. Although Rothbart the dark wizard is defeated, the lovers cannot be together and are also dead by the end of the ballet. In melodrama and tragedy it is similar to Adolphe Adam's Giselle, which Tchaikovsky had enjoyed. Tchaikovsky's first ballet began the Great Three- Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. He was proud of Sleeping Beauty, which musically is superior to Swan Lake. Nevertheless, Swan Lake remains a great work of art. It has the passionate drama of a great classic ballet. Every ballerina wants to play the challenging but prominent role of Odette, the swans in the ballet followed the tradition of ballet-blanc, meaning the corps de ballet dancers wore white tutus. Swan Lake is also a pleasure to watch on video or DVD, preferably by a Russian company or a good American or Canadian company. Enjoy."
A great tchaikovsky recording
Robert J. Cruce | Muskogee, OK United States | 09/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This mono version of Swan Lake from 1954 is superb. The ensemble sound of the Minneapolis Symphony was excellent and I defy anyone to find a more engaging violin soloist in any other recording. This is yet another example of where a great conductor perfectly gauges the forward momentum the music needs and sweeps the listerner on a journey through the music as an organic whole (not just the sequential effect of other performances). There is a magic here you won't find anywhere else. But be warned, this recording will spoil you. After hearing this you may find none other need apply."
TchaikJP | Houston, TX United States | 12/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After having searched and listened to many sad,WEAK renditions of this great ballet (Dutoit's included) I now appreciate Dorati's mastery. Dorati was king of precicion, as any dancer should notice and love. He brings out a fire in the music that makes you want to dance, and I believe it is truly what Tchaikovsky intended. This recording REAKS of beautiful musicality, precicion, and control- so BUY this CD and you will enjoy the art of Dorati, Tchaikovksy, and you'll feel the ballet like never before (or probably ever again)."
The first ... and still the best -- truly a classic
Classic Music Lover | Maryland, USA | 02/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With almost 60 years of recordings in the modern era behind us, it's truly rare to find a "first" recording that remains the best. But that's precisely the case in this instance. Antal Dorati recorded this first-ever fully complete recording of this ballet back in 1955. Today, more than 50 years later, NO ONE has matched his achievement. The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra "sounds" like a real pit orchestra (not the flabby symphonic "wash" of so many other recordings), with exciting rhythmic effects, while the violin solo work of concertmaster Rafael Druian (later to be concertmaster in Cleveland and New York), is absolutely spectacular. This is visceral and vital Tchaikovsky ballet interpretation at its finest. Once you hear this version, you'll never be satisfied with any other -- be it Ansermet, Dutoit, or any of the Russians even. Since this recording was made at the tail end of the mono-only era, I'd suggest you buy this CD now, before it goes out of print once again -- possibly forever this time."
A Beautiful Recording For Mono/Dorati Triumphs
Classic Music Lover | 08/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you don't mind hearing a brash Mono recording, originally from an LP, Dorati has managed to conduct a beautiful rendition of the classic ballet/tragic fairy tale. The music and the dances tell the story of Odette, a princess turned swan by the dark magic of Rothbart and the Prince Odile who discovers the secret only it is too late. The magic of the pas de deux, the famous scene in Act 1 and the Finale is sure to make this a delightful experience for ballet lovers. The Overture is excellent and the main swan theme has been used in various movies and tv- i.e. Dracula with Bela Lugosi uses the main theme in the opening credits and there is a tv commercial that uses it with synchronized swimmers. The beauty of Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest Romantic composers, comes to life. It is a treat to hear. Get this one though some claim it is not the finest interpretation. Dorati however conducts the best Tchaikovsky music, much like Neville Marriner does with the music of Mozart and Bach. If you like romance and fantasy, this is your cd."