This program brings together première recordings of Francis Poulenc’s own piano versions of his ‘ballet of atmosphere’ Les Biches and ‘choreographic concerto’ Aubade, as well as the first digital recording of the suite from Les Animaux modèles, inspired by the fables of La Fontaine and compiled by Grant Johannesen with the composer’s agreement. ‘Piano scores’ are an essential part of rehearsing and choreographing any ballet, but the piano was also indispensable to Poulenc’s compositional process. He owed his love of classical dance to years of working closely with Dyaghilev, and his music brims with subtlety, humour, genuine emotion, piquant harmonies and rhythmic lightness.
Tchaikovsky - almost alone - saw the possibilities of specially-composed music for the classical ballet, which was hugely popular in nineteenth-century Russia. His secret was to work closely with his choreographer and link music and dance routines at the outset: this proved vital to the stage action and the final success of the whole production. Swan Lake was the first, and Nutcracker the last of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores. Following the success of Sleeping Beauty came the request for another ballet, which eventually formed a double-bill with his opera Yolanta. Tchaikovsky agreed, unusually, that some of the Nutcracker music could be played at an orchestral concert before the ballet opened in St Petersburg. At the concert, an enthusiastic audience encored almost every number.
Most French operas from the middle of the 19-th century included ballets, as a lightweight intermezzo amidst the highly dramatic action of the opera. Jules Massenet was especially successful in the genre, and his ballet suites from his operas have surpassed the operas themselves in popularity. This CD contains the delightful and colourful suites from Le Cid,Thais and Cendrillon, evoking the atmosphere of the respective stories and fairytales of the operas.
Tchaikovsky's three classic ballets combine his remarkable gift for melody with sparkling orchestration and a real sense of theatrical magic. Herbert von Karajan and the Wiener Philharmoniker provide performances of "utmost polish and sophistication" in a recording that "can be recommended without reservations". - Gramophone
Tjeknavorian is terrific in this admirable tour de force along the most representative works of this unforgettable colorist composer Aram Katchaturian (1905-1978). I thought that the last word in The Suite Gayaneh came from an old vynil recording of Efrem Kurtz the New York Philarmonic in those fifties, but I still remember how wondered I was when I listened this version thanks to a friend who love the Russian music. […]