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ClassicsOnline Home » GREAT BALLET (10-CD Box Set)
Ballet was born from the late Renaissance movement in Europe, combining the classical skills of music, dance and drama. Its origins can be traced back to the dance traditions of the nobility in the French and Italian courts of the fifteenth century. The creation of classical ballet as we know it was developed under the auspices of Louis XIV, and was then further refined in France and Russia in the nineteenth century into the hugely influential and highly skilled concert dance form with which we are familiar today. Fittingly this collection starts in France, with one of the most haunting and memorable examples of the ballet form: Adam’s Giselle. We are then swept along in a whirlwind tour of some of the greatest Russian ballets by such great composers as Prokofiev, Khachaturian and Shostakovich, while no ballet anthology would be complete without Tchaikovsky’s three Romantic masterpieces Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. From Delibes to Stravinsky, this collection amply demonstrates why ballet remains one of the most loved musical genres.
Adam • Délibes • Tchaikovsky • Glazunov • Khachaturian • Prokofiev • Ravel • Stravinsky
Like opera, ballet in Europe arose from a late Renaissance movement to create again something of ancient classical theatre, with its combination of music, dance and drama. While Western opera had its origins in Italy, ballet, the art of dance, owed much also to France with its court ballet, danced by the nobility and, on occasions, by the king himself. Ballet de cour led to the establishment in France in the later 17th century of an official Académie Royale de Danse and the codification of dance-steps. This was followed, particularly in the second half of the 18th century, by the Ballet d’action, narrative ballet, telling a story through dance and mime, a genre developed in various centres by dancers of different nationalities, by Hilverding and the Italian Angiolini in Vienna, by the French dancer and choreographer Noverre, and by Bournonville in Copenhagen. France was to continue to hold a leading position in the art of ballet, which came to hold a special place in French opera with its essential inclusion of ballet, but the later 19th century found Russia taking a leading place, having drawn original inspiration from France.
The present anthology starts, as it should, in France. Adolphe Adam must be best remembered for his music for the ballet Giselle. Born in Paris in 1803, he wrote music for the ballet La Chatte blanche (The White Cat), in 1830 and three years later Faust for the King’s Theatre in London. In 1839 he accepted an invitation to St Petersburg to provide music for the dancer Filippo Taglioni and his daughter Marie and on his return was asked by Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to write a work for the Berlin theatre, resulting in another ballet, Les Hamadryades, also for Taglioni. It was in 1841 in Paris that Adam enjoyed what has proved his most lasting success with music for the ballet Giselle ou Les Wilis, the first great Paris success also for Carlotta Grisi, with other rôles taken by Lucien Petipa and Adèle Dumilâtre. This was followed in 1842 by La Jolie fille de Gand a work that was equally well received. Adam’s attempt to establish a new theatre in 1847 brought financial disaster, but by 1853 he had paid off his debts and continued working until his sudden death in 1856.
The art of ballet in France had reached a new height in the middle of the 19th century, coinciding with the early career of Léo Delibes. It was through Adam that, after training at the Conservatoire, Delibes became an accompanist at the Théâtre-Lyrique, for which he later wrote comic operas and operettas. In 1863 he became accompanist at the Opéra and three years later was allowed to associate with the Austrian-born composer Minkus in the composition of a ballet, La source, success in which brought the commission for a divertissement, Le pas des fleurs, to be added to Adam’s Le corsaire. Delibes won his greatest popular success with Coppélia, his first complete ballet score, commissioned for 1870. Coppélia ou La fille aux yeux d’émail was based on a story by ETA Hoffmann, Der Sandmann and has choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon. It deals with the love of Franz and Swanilda and the ambition of old Dr Coppelius to create a living doll, which Swanilda impersonates. At the Opéra in 1870 Swanilda was danced by Giuseppina Bozzacchi and Franz by the Opéra première danseuse Eugénie Fiocre, who specialised in travesty rôles. Dr Coppelius was danced by the character dancer François Dauty. This ballet was followed six years later by Sylvia ou La nymphe de Diane, first staged at the Opéra in 1846, with choreography by Louis Mérante, who created the part of Aminta in the ballet. Sylvia was danced by Rita Sangalli, Diane by Louise Marquet and Eros, a travesty rôle, by Marie Sanlaville.
Ballet in Russia owed a great deal to the French dancer, choreographer and ballet-master Marius Petipa, who created his first ballet for the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg in 1855. It was Petipa who eventually came to play an important part in the choreography of Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker. Composers for ballet need a special ability in handling a series of short forms, while welding the scenes into an intelligible whole. This was a medium in which Tchaikovsky excelled. His first ballet, Swan Lake, based on a story by the German writer Musäus, was first staged at the Bolshoy Theatre in Moscow in 1877 with choreography by the Austrian Wenzel Reisinger and to no great effect. The work came into its own with choreography by Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895, two years after Tchaikovsky’s death, providing the basis of many future versions. Petipa was responsible for the choreography of The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in 1890, bringing Russian ballet to a new height. Nutcracker, first staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1892, had a libretto by Petipa and choreography, as Petipa was indisposed, by Ivanov, and was based on E.T.A.Hoffmann’s Nussknacker under der Mäuseekönig (Nutcracker and the Mouse-King). Leading parts were taken by Pavel Gerdt, who had danced in Sleeping Beauty and took a leading rôle in the 1895 version of Swan Lake, Nikolay Legat and Olga Preobrajenska.
The tradition of Russian ballet continued with Alexander Glazunov, a protégé of the older nationalist composer Rimsky-Korsakov, who provided music for Petipa’s ballet Raymonda in 1898 and Les Saisons (The Seasons) two years later, the latter a grand divertissement, following the seasons from winter round to autumn and a nocturnal apotheosis. The music of Raymonda has proved very much more satisfactory than the original ballet. In 1895 the minor novelist and columnist Lydia Pashkova submitted her scenario to the director of the Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky. After revision this was sent to the veteran choreographer of the Imperial ballet, Marius Petipa. The work was eventually staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in January 1898, initially with a benefit performance for Pierina Legnani, who danced the title rôle. Sergey Legat took the premier danseur rôle of Jean de Brienne, with Pavel Gerdt in the character rôle of Abderakhman. Sets were designed by Orest Allegri, Konstantin Ivanov and Petr Lambru and costumes by Ekaterina Ofizerova and Ivan Kaffi.
Soviet ballets, in common with other arts under Communism, needed to follow the principles of Socialist Realism, and the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian was loyal to these dictates in his ballet Gayane, first mounted in 1942 by the Kirov Ballet, successor to the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Set on a cotton farming collective, the ballet reveals the wickedness of a reactionary and the virtue of the collective chairman, who finally wins his bride in a work that includes the famous Sabre Dance in a divertissement. The ballet Spartacus, the score of which was completed in 1954, deals with the slave rebellion led by the hero of that name against Roman domination. The historical Spartacus himself was Thracian by birth, a shepherd who became a robber. He was taken prisoner and sold to a trainer of gladiators in Capua, but in 73 B.C. he escaped, with other prisoners, and led a rebellion during the course of which he defeated the Roman armies and caused devastation throughout Italy. He was eventually defeated by Crassus, a general well known for his wealth, and put to death by crucifixion, together with his followers. It should be added that to Karl Marx Spartacus was the first great proletarian hero, a champion of the people, while the ultimate fate of Crassus, killed in 53 B.C. during the course of a campaign that had taken him to Armenia, might have had a particular significance for Khachaturian. Spartacus was first produced at the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad in 1956, with choreography by Leonid Jacobson, and was re-staged at the Bolshoy in Moscow two years later, with choreography by Igor Moiseyev. The relative failure of these productions was followed by what must be seen as the definitive version at the Bolshoy in 1968, with choreography and a revised libretto by Yuri Grigorovich, Vladimir Vasiliev as Spartacus and Ekaterina Maximova as Phrygia.
A recalcitrant pupil of Glazunov, while the latter was director of the Petrograd Conservatory, Sergey Prokofiev at first seemed set on a career abroad, outside Russia, but in 1936 he returned home, an ill-timed decision, in view of the path that official Soviet music was to take. His first ballets were intended for foreign companies and audiences, including the Ballets Russes de Dyagilev, the remarkable and influential Russian company that Sergey Dyagilev had established in Paris in the first decade of the 20th century. Prokofiev’s The Prodigal Son was staged by the Dyagilev Company in Paris in 1929, and Romeo and Juliet had its first performance only outside Russia, at Brno in 1938, after various objections had been raised in Russia. The commission for Cinderella came from the Kirov Ballet in 1940, soon after their production of Romeo and Juliet. In the early part of 1941 Prokofiev was absorbed in the composition of the new ballet, which he explained should be as danceable as possible, conceived in the traditions of the classical ballet. The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June diverted his attention to the composition of an opera based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and Cinderella was not finished until 1944. It was first staged at the Bolshoy Theatre in Moscow on 21st November 1945. Several months later Prokofiev arranged three orchestral suites from the ballet, basing them largely on the pieces transcribed for solo piano, Opus 95 and Opus 97. He explained that the suites were not simply mechanical excerpts from the original score but had been reworked and recast in symphonic form. Although the basic ideas remain the same, there are changes in orchestration and subtle variations in tempi, with fragmentary ideas from the score condensed into short movements of melodic and virtuosic ingenuity.
The final ballets included here are works inspired and commissioned by Sergey Dyagilev for his Ballets Russes. With a remarkable instinct for the best of contemporary work in dance, décor, scenario and music, Dyagilev commissioned from the French composer Maurice Ravel the score for Daphnis et Chloé, a work based on the Hellenistic pastoral romance of Longus. The libretto and choreography were by Fokin, who was about to leave the company, after disagreements with Dyagilev over his plans to establish his young friend Nijinsky as a choreographer. Fokin had been a choreographer and dancer at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, and created a number of works for Dyagilev, including also The Firebird and Petrushka, in which he was able to put into practice his ideas for ballet as an art form that unified the other associated arts, libretto, décor, music and dance. Dyagilev’s first choice as composer for The Firebird had been Lyadov, but with a score needed as soon as possible for the new season of the Ballets Russes he commissioned, instead, Stravinsky, whose early work he had heard. Décor was by Golovin, with costumes for the Firebird, danced by Karsavina, and for the Tsarevna by Bakst. Stravinsky started the music in November 1909 and completed it in orchestral score by May, 1910, in time for its first staging at the Paris Opéra on 25th June. He later arranged three concert suites from the ballet. The second of these, written in 1919, and the third, written in 1945, use a smaller orchestra than the extravagant original ballet score. Stravinsky’s success with this very Russian ballet was the start of an association with ballet which continued throughout his life. The Firebird was first staged at the Paris Opéra in June 1910, with Karsavina in the title-rôle.
Dyagilev commissioned music for Petrushka for the 1911 Paris season at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Nijinsky danced the rôle of the puppet of the title, with Karsavina as the Ballerina with whom Petrushka falls in love, Alexander Orlov as Petrushka’s rival, the Moor, and the veteran ballet-master Cecchetti as the Magician. Choreography was by Fokin. The Rite of Spring, with music commissioned by Dyagilev from Stravinsky, had startling choreography by the company’s star dancer, Nijinsky, who had already caused something of a scandal with his choreography for Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune. An evocation of primitive Russia, with human sacrifice, the new ballet was first given at the Paris Théâtre des Champs Elysées in May 1913, when it caused an uproar, as members of the audience took sides for or against the work. It has since been staged with varied choreography, but the music has remained a challenging part of concert repertoire.
Adolphe Adam (1803–1856)
Giselle ou Les Wilis
Ballet-pantomime in two acts
After the Introduction [Track 1], the curtain opens to reveal the square of a Rhineland village. To the left of the stage is the house where Giselle and her mother live and to the right the house of the huntsman Hilarion, who is in love with Giselle. It is the time of the grape-harvest, and grape-pickers enter [Track 2]. Hilarion goes to knock on Giselle’s door, but is interrupted by the approach of Duke Albrecht and his attendant Wilfried. Albrecht removes his cloak and sword, resolved to woo Giselle, in the guise of a simple peasant, Loys, a course from which Wilfried tries to dissuade him [Track 3]. He knocks on the door, but hides, so that Giselle, when she comes out, sees no-one. She dances [Track 4], but turning to go indoors again is waylaid by Albrecht. They dance together and love is inevitable, when a daisy, the petals of which she is plucking, assures her that Albrecht loves her. Hilarion emerges, and tries to disillusion Giselle, who will not hear him.
The grape-pickers return [Track 5] and there is a waltz in which Giselle joins [Track 7], with Albrecht. Nevertheless Berthe, Giselle’s mother, warns her daughter to take care, since she has a weak heart. Giselle and her mother go into their house, while the sound of an approaching hunt is heard. The hunting-party enters, with Bathilde, betrothed to Albrecht, and her father, the Prince of Kurland. Giselle and Berthe offer the nobles refreshment and Bathilde and her father retire into the house to rest. There is a march of the grape-pickers [Track 6] and dancing to entertain the party [Tracks 7 to 12]. Hilarion, who has found Albrecht’s sword and cloak, now tries to convince Giselle that her new lover is a nobleman and not to be trusted. There is a quarrel between the two men and this ends when Hilarion sounds his hunting-horn. Bathilde and her father come out and recognise Albrecht, who greets them, kissing Bathilde’s hand. Giselle’s dreams are shattered and, out of her mind, she dances madly, finally dying of a broken heart. [Track 13]
The second act is set in a clearing in the woods, where Giselle has been buried. Hilarion comes in, but is terrified away by the distant sight of the will-o’-the-wisps [Track 14]. The ghostly Queen Myrthe uses her magic [Track 15] and the Wilis appear, the ghosts of girls who had died unwed and now seek their revenge on all men. Each is summoned from her grave, ending with the ghost of Giselle, who dances. As they disappear, Albrecht comes in, seeking the grave of his Giselle, whose spirit now returns to dance with him. The Wilis, however, have met with Hilarion [Track 16], whom they now dance to death. Albrecht would meet the same fate [Tracks 17 to 22], but Giselle saves him by dancing with him until break of day, when the power of the Wilis must be broken [Track 23].
Léo Delibes (1836–1891)
The scene opens in the centre of a little town [Track 1]. Swanilda opens the window of her house [Track 2], looks round and steps out, approaching the mysterious house of old Dr Coppelius and trying to attract the attention of the girl sitting reading in the window, an object of interest to Swanilda’s lover Franz. She watches him as he moves towards her house, but hesitates, attracted by the figure in Dr Coppelius’s window. Young people gather [Track 3] and dance, alarmed momentarily by a strange noise from the workshop of Dr Coppelius. The legend of an ear of corn that reveals fidelity suggests that Frantz is proving disloyal. As Franz goes, Swanilda dances with her friends [Track 4] and the young people join in a Csárdás [Track 5]. Dr Coppelius goes out, mocked by the younger people. He drops the key to his house, as he goes. Frantz has been trying to attract the attention of the girl sitting in the window, and fetches a ladder, intending to break into Dr Coppelius’s house.
The second act is set in the workshop of Dr Coppelius. Swanilda and her friends seize the chance to enter the house and, accidentally, set Dr Coppelius’s automata in motion [Track 6], first a drummer then a Moorish figure. Dr Coppelius, meanwhile, has found Franz and plied him with drink [Track 7], to which he has added a drug, hoping to use his magic to steal Franz’s soul and give it to his doll Coppélia, the object of Franz’s interest and Swanilda’s jealousy. The return of Dr Coppelius has sent the girls scurrying from his workshop, but Swanilda has stayed behind, hiding in a cupboard, where she has changed clothes with the doll, Coppélia. To the delight of Dr Coppelius the doll seems to come to life [Track 8] and dance. It seems that the doll is about to drink from the potion that had sent Franz to sleep, but Dr Coppelius prevents her. The pretend Coppélia has seen Dr Coppelius’s book of spells and breaks away from Dr Coppelius, causing havoc in the workshop. As Swanilda and Franz, now revived, make their escape the dolls are again set in motion.
The third act includes a series of divertissements. The scene is the lawn before the château where the lord of the manor is to distribute dowries to those about to marry, part of the holiday to celebrate the presentation of a new town bell [Track 9]. Swanilda and Franz are reconciled and when Dr Coppelius demands justice for the destruction caused in his workshop, Swanilda offers him her dowry, but is prevented by the lord of the manor, who gives Dr Coppelius money. The festival continues with the Dance of the Hours [Track 10], which includes Dawn [Track 11], the working day, a village wedding, discord and war, followed by peace and an added Variation [Track 12]. The holiday is celebrated [Track 13] and the ballet ends with a procession led by the hours of night in a Galop final [Track 14].
Léo Delibes (1836–1891)
The ballet opens with a Prélude [Track 15]. The first scene finds a gathering of Naiads, Dryads and Sylvains, grouped around a statue of Eros in a sacred wood. Aminta arrives, having caught sight of the nymph of Diana, Sylvia, the previous night and now seeking her. Sylvia dances by the water [Track 16], observed by the black hunter, Orion. Aminta hides but is discovered and dragged before her [Track 17]. She, however, disdains him and shoots an arrow at the statue of Eros, instead wounding the young man standing behind it. The statue comes to life and shoots a golden arrow of love at Sylvia. The gathering disperses, leaving Aminta wounded on the ground. Sylvia returns to see the young man, as day draws near [Track 18] and peasants and shepherds appear. Sylvia, however, is followed by the hunter Orion, who abducts her and carries her off to his cave. A magician appears and cures Aminta, and his fellowshepherds who now assemble recognise him as Eros and worship him.
In the second act, set in the grotto of Orion, Sylvia repels the hunter’s advances. She sits with him at a banquet and makes him and his servants drunk, while she dances in honour of Bacchus. Orion and his men fall asleep and Sylvia now calls on Eros, dedicating her weapons to him. The god of love appears to save her and the walls of the grotto disappear, leaving her free to go.
The third act takes place on the sea-shore near the temple of Diana, the chaste goddess to whom Sylvia has been devoted. There is a celebration in honour of Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry, and of the satyr Silenus [Track 19] and the god himself appears, with his followers [Track 20]. Aminta, disconsolate, wanders among the revellers. A young pirate sails in to the shore and disembarks with his crew, among them one who dances for Aminta, with a series of divertissements [Tracks 21 to 24]. Finally the dancer reveals herself as Sylvia. Orion appears, seeking to capture Sylvia once more, but she, with Aminta, takes refuge in the temple of Diana. Orion attempts to batter the door of the temple down with his axe, but is greeted by a sudden storm and the appearance of the angry goddess, who shoots him with her arrow. He, however, accuses Sylvia of infidelity to her vows. At this moment the young pirate, raising the lamp he holds, reveals himself as Eros. There is a vision in the clouds of Endymion, the mortal that Diana, goddess of the moon, had once loved, and she is persuaded to pardon the lovers, who are now united in her palace, where Diana and Eros now preside over the final rejoicing [Track 25].
Peter Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
The ballet opens, after an Introduction [Track 1], with a scene set in the magnificent castle park. On the terrace of the palace, Prince Siegfried and his friends sit drinking [Track 2]. The young prince is celebrating his birthday and coming of age, and villagers gather to congratulate him, entertaining him, on the instructions of his tutor Wolfgang, by their dances. The Prince orders refreshments for them, with flowers and ribbons for the women. They dance a waltz [Track 3]. Pages run in, announcing the approach of the Prince’s mother and the servants set all in order, in an endeavour to conceal the celebration, while Wolfgang assumes an air of greater sobriety. Siegfried’s mother, entering with her attendants, expresses some displeasure at the ill-concealed festivities, telling him that the next day he must choose a bride, a matter to be settled at the ball to be held, to which all eligible young girls have been invited. She allows the young people to continue their celebration. For Siegfried this represents the end of his freedom as a carefree bachelor, as he tells his friends. Siegfried’s guests are entertained by a young man and two girls in a Pas de Trois. [Tracks 4 to 8]. As the Prince’s mother retires, a couple dances a waltz and Wolfgang, the drunken court chamberlain, excites the mirth of the company by his clumsiness. It is growing dark and a guest proposes a final dance with clinking glasses, [Track 9] a polka. At this point a flight of swans appears over the royal park, an event marked in the orchestra by the oboe melody that had opened the ballet and in the harp arpeggios that accompany it [Track 10]. Siegfried’s friend Benno suggests a swan-hunt, since he knows where the swans pass the night in the forest. The Prince and his companions set out for the hunt, leaving Wolfgang too drunk to follow.
The second act opens with the swan theme, the scene a moonlit lakeside in the forest, with a ruined chapel to one side. Here the swans swim on the lake, led by a swan wearing a crown. Benno and the hunters come in, calling on Siegfried to follow. The Prince, however, lingers alone, sees the swan and is about to shoot, but at this moment the ruins are revealed in a magic light. The swans disappear, and Odette, the Swan Princess, is seen in human form, asking the reason for Siegfried’s persecution. She tells of the spell put on her and her companions by the wicked magician Rothbart. Only between midnight and dawn is she free to resume human shape and the bewitchment can only be ended by marriage with a mortal who must love no other. He invites her to the ball to be given at the palace the following day, when he must choose a bride. Although this is impossible, Odette begs Siegfried to be faithful to her, since he is her only chance of salvation. An owl appears, the disguise of the sorcerer, overhearing their conversation, before flying away. There is a flight of swans and Odette asks the sorcerer to spare Siegfried, who now draws and then casts aside his cross-bow. Siegfried’s fellow-hunters hurry in, as the enchanted companions of Odette appear, and the Prince orders his friends not to harm the swans. Siegfried is re-assured by Odette. The swans dance in gratitude [Tracks 11 to 15], and Siegfried and Odette dance together, then all dance. As day dawns, Odette and her companions return to the lake [Track 16], again under Rothbart’s spell, as the sinister owl flies above them. The third act is set in the palace, where a ball is being given at which Prince Siegfried must choose the one who is to be his wife [Track 17]. Wolfgang gives orders to the servants, as the guests arrive, followed by the Prince and then the Princess, with their pages, attendants, and dwarves. The master of ceremonies gives a sign for the dances to begin, a dance for the whole company, followed by a dance of dwarves [Track 18]. A horn-call heralds the arrival of more guests, met by the master of ceremonies. Their names are announced to the Prince. An old nobleman enters with his wife and his daughter. They pay their respects to their hosts and the girl starts to dance with one of the young knights [Track 19]. A further horn-call announces the arrival of more guests. An older man is ushered to a seat, while his daughter dances with one of the young knights, as more guests are shown in. The six candidates for the hand of the Prince are brought forward, and his mother asks him to make his choice. They are followed by an unknown couple, Rothbart and his daughter Odile, the latter in appearance identical with Odette, although dressed in black, not in white. Siegfried is struck by the resemblance and discusses it with his friend Benno. The candidates for the hand of Siegfried dance a series of variations. Siegfried, believing that it is Odette that has come to the palace, dances with Odile in a demanding set of variations. After this the guests pay their respects in a series of national dances, a Russian dance, a Hungarian czárdás, a Spanish dance, a Neapolitan dance, and a mazurka [Track 20], the divertissement expected by contemporary audiences. To his mother’s approval, Siegfried declares that he will marry the daughter of the mysterious guest, and the Princess asks Wolfgang about her son’s choice of bride. He invites Odile to dance with him and kisses her hand. The Princess and Rothbart come forward and she declares Odile her son’s choice. Rothbart solemnly takes his daughter’s hand and places it in that of the Prince. At this moment Odette is seen at the window, and as Siegfried pledges his troth to Odile, a clap of thunder is heard. Rothbart and Odile disappear in triumph, while Siegfried falls senseless to the ground [Track 21].
The fourth act opens at the lake-side. The swan-maidens await their princess, wondering at her absence. There is a dance of cygnets, instructed by their elders [Track 22]. Odette runs in, telling her friends of her sorrow [Track 23]. They see Siegfried approaching and Odette tells him of her coming death, caused by his treachery. Rothbart calls up a storm to destroy the swan-maidens. Siegfried, disregarding his own life, struggles against the magician, breaks the spell and is united with Odette, now in human shape, seeking her forgiveness [Track 24].
Peter Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
The Introduction [Track 1] provides an orchestral illustration of the contrasting characters of the wicked Carabosse and the Lilac Fairy. In the Prologue King Florestan XXIV is celebrating the christening of his first child, Princess Aurore. To the sound of a march he enters, followed by his courtiers [Track 2]. The six Good Fairies come to the christening, bringing their own magic gifts [Track 3]. Each Fairy offers her own present to the child [Track 4]. Candide the Upright is followed by the amiable Coulante Fleur de Farine, pure as wheaten flour [Track 5]. The third fairy is Fée aux Miettes, the Bread-crumb Fairy [Track 6], the fourth the Singing Canary Fairy [Track 7], the fifth the impetuous Violente [Track 8] and the last and best of all the Lilac Fairy [Track 9]. They dance [Track 10]. Carabosse, the Wicked Fairy, has not been invited, and appears to express her displeasure. The Master of Ceremonies Catalabutte takes the blame for this omission, but Carabosse will not be pacified: the princess shall prick her finger and sleep for ever. Carabosse dances, with her attendants and her rats. The Lilac Fairy modifies the curse of Carabosse: the princess will sleep a hundred years and be woken by the kiss of a young prince. Carabosse storms out in anger.
The first act, the Spell, opens in the palace gardens, where the people celebrate the fifteenth birthday of Princess Aurore. Cattabutte notices some women knitting and in anger orders their imprisonment, since knitting-needles have been forbidden near the palace by royal decree. The King and Queen appear and when they learn what has happened are even angrier: the women should be put to death. The King is mollified by the entreaties of the four princes, who have come to seek the hand of the Princess in marriage. To the sound of the Sleeping Beauty Waltz the company celebrates the occasion [Track 11]. The four princes now ask to see Princess Aurore. The Princess appears and dances the Rose Adagio, receiving a dark red rose from each of the princes [Track 12]. Her maids of honour and pages dance, followed by the Princess, who dances a variation accompanied by the solo violin. She sees an old woman in the crowd with a strange present for her, a spindle, decorated with ribbons. She seizes it, fascinated [Track 13]. Princess Aurore pricks her finger on the spindle. The music recalls the curse of Carabosse, as Aurore dances wildly, before falling to the ground. The King, Queen and courtiers are distraught, and at this moment Carabosse reveals herself: the spindle is her gift to the Princess and now her curse is fulfilled. The Lilac Fairy makes an opportune appearance to modify the spell through her own magic. She has the princess carried into the palace, while palace and gardens are transformed, the former turned to stone and the latter overgrown with wild roses and brush-wood [Track 14].
By the time of the second act a hundred years have passed away. Prince Désiré accompanied by his tutor Gallison and a group of friends, is hunting and has come upon the enchanted forest [Track 15]. The party plays blindman’s buff to pass the time. Various groups in the hunting-party dance, led by the Duchesses, followed by Baronesses, Countesses and Marchionesses. The whole party joins in a Farandole, an old French dance. The party moves on, leaving Prince Désiré alone. The Lilac Fairy now appears and tells him of Princess Aurore and her fate. By magic she conjures up a vision of the Princess, who rises from her bed and starts to dance. Désiré and Aurore dance together. The Princess dances her own variation and then disappears.
The Prince begs the Lilac Fairy to lead him to the Princess. They now make their way through the enchanted forest [Track 16]. A romance for solo violin provides an entr’acte for the change of scene.
The music depicts the stillness of the scene, with the sleeping forest and palace [Track 17]. The Prince and the Lilac Fairy bring life to the place again. He approaches the sleeping Princess and wakens her with a kiss. The Princess, King, Queen and courtiers now come to life again and celebrate the breaking of the spell [Track 18].
In the third act the King and Queen enter in procession with the Prince and Princess [Track 19]. The wedding guests and the good fairies enter to the sound of a Polonaise [Track 20]. Four fairies bring new blessings for the couple [Track 21]. The Gold Fairy dances a waltz. The Silver Fairy, accompanied by the silvery sound of a glockenspiel, dances a polka [Track 22]. The Sapphire Fairy adds a Slavonic dance, followed by the Diamond Fairy [Track 23]. Characters from Perrault’s other fairy-tales enter. Puss-in-Boots woos the White Cat in true feline manner. Other fairy-tale characters appear [Track 24]. Cinderella and Prince Fortune dance a waltz [Track 25], followed by an Andantino from the Blue Bird and Princess Florine, before all four dance together [Track 26]. Now Little Red Riding-Hood dances with the Wolf, after which Cinderella and her Prince re-appear. A dance from the region of Berry introduces little Hop-o’-my-Thumb, his brothers and the Ogre. Princess Aurore and Prince Désiré now dance a Grand Pas de Deux, both characterised in their own variations and united in love. The French courtly setting is stressed in a traditional Sarabande. A final rondo brings the wedding celebration to a triumphant conclusion. A traditional French melody, Vive Henri Quatre, is used to accompany the closing Apotheosis, solemn assurance that the couple lived happily ever after [Track 27].
Peter Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
The ballet starts with a miniature Overture [Track 1]. Set in the eighteenth century, initially in the house of the President of one of the German states of the period, the first scene is a children’s Christmas party. The President and his friends are decorating the Christmas-tree [Track 2]. The children come in, the boys marching, in play [Track 3], and they all join in a lively galop [Track 4]. At this point Drosselmeyer, a slightly sinister adult, comes in, bringing presents, a doll for Clara, the daughter of the house, and a toy soldier for Franz, her brother [Track 5]. They dance, first a waltz, then a more rapid dance [Track 6]. When the children are told not to open their presents, Clara starts to cry and Franz proves obstinate, but Drosselmeyer quietens them by giving the two a pair of nutcrackers, promptly broken by Franz who tries to crack the biggest nut he can find. Clara sadly picks it up and lays it, with her new doll, in a cradle, while Franz quickly forgets and starts playing with a toy trumpet and drums. The festivities come to an end, the guests leave and Clara and Franz are sent to bed.
The room is left in darkness, lit only by the light of the moon. Clara creeps down to see her broken Nutcracker, and is alarmed at the open warfare that breaks out between the Mouse-King and his army and the Gingerbread soldiers by the Christmas-tree. With a well-aimed shoe, she routs the enemy, and is invited by the Nutcracker, now transformed into a handsome prince, to visit the Kingdom of Sweets [Track 7]. There they are welcomed by the Snow-King and Snow-Queen, who offer, as entertainment, the Dance of the Snowflakes [Track 8]. What follows is set in the Kingdom of Sweets, where Clara and the Prince are welcomed first by the Sugar-Plum Fairy, to be carried in a boat over a river of rose-water, while the Prince recalls his adventures and Clara’s brave intervention in his struggle with the Mouse-King. A series of character dances follows, including a Spanish Chocolate Dance, an Arabian Coffee Dance, a Chinese Tea Dance, a Russian Trepak, a Dance of the Toy Trumpets and the appearance of the Old Woman who lived in a shoe and her numerous offspring [Track 9]. Flowers of all colours join in the Waltz of the Flowers [Track 10]. Prince Orgead dances a Tarantelle and the Sugar Plum Fairy her famous dance, with its then novel use of the celesta [Track 11]. All then join in the final dance, which leads to a closing Apotheosis for the Kingdom of Sweets, honey-bees and their Queen [Track 12].
Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936)
There is no particular story to The Seasons, which offers a series of tableaux one for each of the four seasons, set to music that seems to continue the tradition established in the three ballets of Tchaikovsky.
After a short introduction the curtain rises to show Winter surrounded by Frost, Ice, Hail and Ice, amid whirling snowflakes. For the first of these, Frost, there is a Polonaise, for Ice a dance played by violas and clarinets, for Hail a scherzo and for Snow a waltz. The cold of winter is banished by two gnomes, who light a fire, preparing the temperature for the following scene. Spring is ushered in by the harp and accompanied by the gentle Zephyr, Birds and Flowers. There is a dance for Roses, for Spring and for one of the Birds, all of whom depart as the summer sun grows hotter. Summer is set in a cornfield, where Cornflowers and Poppies dance, with the Spirit of the Corn. The heat exhausts them, and as they rest a group of Naiads enter, to a Barcarolle, bringing the water that the flowers need. There is a dance for the Spirit of the Corn, accompanied by a clarinet solo and a coda, interrupted by an attempt by satyrs and fauns to carry off the Spirit, frustrated by the intervention of the Zephyr. A wild Bacchic dance introduces Autumn. There are brief appearances by Winter, Spring, the Bird and the Zephyr, reminiscences of the year that is now passing. There is a dance for Summer, and then the Bacchanale resumes, to be brought to an end by multitudinous falling leaves. The stage grows dark and the final Apotheosis shows the stars, as they circle the Earth.
Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936)
The action of the ballet is set in medieval Hungary. Raymonda is betrothed to Jean de Brienne, a crusader, who is called away to the wars. She is also the object of desire to the Saracen knight Abderakhman, who plans to abduct her. The White Lady (Dame blanche), a guardian spirit of Raymonda’s noble family, appears and prevents the abduction, and Abderakhman is killed in combat by Jean de Brienne. The principal action ends with the second act. The third act honours the happy couple, Raymonda and Jean de Brienne, and is sometimes offered now as a separate item in ballet programmes. It consists of a series of divertissements, including the famous Pas classique hongrois.
There have been various re-stagings of Raymonda, either in its original form, or with a revised scenario and adapted choreography, with versions by Pavlova, Balanchin and Nureyev among others. Dyagilev himself took from it a men’s pas de quatre, with Nizhinsky, for his opening season in Paris in 1909. However unsatisfactory the narrative and dramatic structure of the piece, it remains, in the version of the eighty-year-old Marius Petipa, a classic of choreography, while its music has its own lasting attractions. Glazunov shared with Tchaikovsky an ability to handle the short forms that ballet demands, within a coherent wider structure. His evocative score for Raymonda is immensely colourful, whether in the varied set-pieces of the first act, with its romance, its ghostly apparitions and dance of elves and goblins, or in the character dances of the exotic second act or in the final celebrations of the third.
Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978)
Gayane (Suite No 2)
Gayane was conceived as a ballet in four acts and six scenes. Based, in its original version, on a libretto by Konstantin Derzhavin, it was first staged in December 1942 in Perm, where the Kirov Ballet had been evacuated. Choreography was by Anasimova and decor by Natan Altman. It was restaged in Leningrad in 1945 by the Kirov and in 1957 in another version by the Moscow Bolshoy. The composer was awarded the Stalin Prize for his work in 1943. The ballet was based on an earlier work, Happiness, first produced in Yerevan in 1939, and Khachaturian re-used this music for his new score.
The action of Gayane takes place on a collective farm near Kolkhoz in Southern Armenia in the early days of the Great Patriotic War. Gayane, a cotton-picker, is married to the disreputable Giko, a drunkard and a coward. She denounces him, but he sets fire to bales of cotton and takes their child hostage. Gayane is injured by her husband but saved from his further threats by the arrival of the Red Army Border Patrol and its heroic leader. Giko is sent to imprisonment, leaving Gayane free to marry the leader of the Border Patrol, with whom she has fallen in love. Their marriage gives an opportunity for celebratory dances from Armenia, Georgia and the Ukraine, with the famous Kurdish Sabre Dance. Other characters in the story include Armen, Gayane’s brother, and the girl with whom he is in love, although both characters and events of the sub-plot differ in the various versions of the ballet.
Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978)
Spartacus (Suite No 2)
The first three suites from the ballet were arranged by the composer between 1955 and 1957, before the revision of the score for the Bolshoy in 1968. Music is taken from various scenes in the ballet, with the best known the solo of Aegina, a quick waltz, followed by general celebration in a Bacchanalia, the following dance with the crotala, an instrument similar to the castanets and the moving Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia, with the dance of the girls from Cadiz, the Gaditanae, from the second act, when Spartacus and Crassus fight in single combat. Other movements in the suites are taken from various parts of the original ballet, with characteristic dances providing divertissements, in a work that in general follows a spectacular use of the corps de ballet with a solo dance that reflects the feelings of the principal characters in the story.
The ballet opens in Rome, where Crassus is buying Thracian prisoners, including Spartacus and his wife Phrygia. Spartacus will not accept his fate. In the second scene the slaves are sold, below the walls of the Capitol, and Phrygia, separated now from her husband, laments her uncertain fate. She has been bought by Crassus and in his villa his mistress Aegina mocks her fears: she herself cares only for power, money and dissolute living. In an orgy two blindfold slaves trained as gladiators are brought in and made to fight each other to the death. One of them wins and reveals himself as Spartacus, dismayed now at having killed a fellow-slave. He wonders what his fate will be. The scene changes to the barracks of the gladiators, where Spartacus urges his fellow-slaves to fight for freedom. They swear to follow him.
The second of the three acts of the final version opens with a shepherd dance. Runaway slaves arrive and urge them to join the revolt, with Spartacus as their leader. He resolves to find and set free his wife Phrygia. Crassus celebrates his triumph and Spartacus now learns of Phrygia’s fate. During a banquet given by Crassus, Spartacus escapes with Phrygia. Aegina does her best to gain her ends by dominating Crassus, who himself has grandiose political ambitions: he uses force and she uses her wits, but both have similar aims. At his villa the guests of Crassus celebrate, but news is brought that Spartacus and his men have surrounded the place. Crassus, Aegina and the nobles make their escape, leaving the slaves in charge of the villa. Spartacus realises that Roman strength lies in its armies and in the subservience of the people: in fact the Romans are cowards. In the fourth scene of the act Crassus is defeated and brought before Spartacus, who insists on single combat, rather than putting his enemy to death. Crassus loses, but is spared by Spartacus, who sends him contemptuously away.
The third act brings a conspiracy against Spartacus. Crassus is urged by Aegina to seek revenge and raises an army for the purpose. Aegina has time to give vent to her hatred of Spartacus and in the following scene enters the slave camp by night. Phrygia is uneasy and Spartacus tries to calm her. A messenger brings news of the advance of the Roman legions, against which Spartacus has a daring plan, to which his immediate supporters object. Aegina, meanwhile, with the help of the traitor Harmodius, is still intent on revenge. This she accomplishes as the slaves wait for their leader’s battle signal. She now plies them with wine and brings women to corrupt and weaken them, leading to their defeat by Crassus and her own reward. Crassus is determined that they shall die. In a final battle Spartacus is surrounded and captured, to be raised up on legionary spears. Phrygia comes to seek him, and is left mourning over his dead body.
Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Cinderela Suite No 1
Suite No1 opens with an introduction that presents two of the themes directly associated with Cinderella, the first sad in character and the second suggesting her dreams of happiness. In the Pas de châle and Quarrel the Ugly Sisters are embroidering a shawl for the ball at the Prince’s palace. The dance turns into a squabble, as they quarrel as to who should wear it. The Winter Fairy, who completes Cinderella’s transformation, is heard before the Fairy Godmother, whose magic changes Cinderella into a beautiful princess. The Mazurka precedes the entry of the Prince at the grand ball in the palace, while Cinderella goes to the ball finds her about to leave for the palace, warned by her Fairy Godmother of the one condition she must remember. Cinderella’s Waltz leads to Midnight, as the clock strikes twelve and Cinderella rushes away, realising that the spell is now broken.
Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Romeo and Juliet
The opening scene shows a street in Verona [Track 1]. It is early morning, and Romeo now enters, lost in thought and not noticing the girls who try to stop him. Gradually the street awakes: people come out and greet each other, and revellers return home [Track 2]. There is a morning dance [Track 3]. A quarrel breaks out, leading to a more serious fight which ceases at the entry of the Duke on horseback. He seeks to know what is happening, and the weapons are laid aside, while old Capulet and Montague come forward before him. There is now an Interlude between scenes, depicting the power of the Duke.
The second scene is set at the house of the Capulets, where the servants, with Juliet’s nurse, busy themselves with preparations for a ball. Juliet, a girl of fourteen, comes in [Track 4]. She is only a child, and does not want to prepare for the ball, but is persuaded by her nurse. She looks at herself in the glass and runs out. To the sound of a minuet the guests arrive, taking off their cloaks and mantles and moving to an inner room. Now Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio enter wearing masks, the first thoughtful and the other two in jovial mood [Track 5]. The inner room is revealed and the knights dance [Track 6]. Juliet is partnered by Paris, to whom she is indifferent. Romeo looks on in admiration and the general dance resumes. Juliet is shy and then dances in more animated fashion, before running away. Mercutio now jokes and enlivens the company [Track 7]. Romeo looks with admiration at Juliet, who is playful before a tender scene, and her departure [Track 8]. The Capulet Tybalt recognises the intruder Romeo, a Montague, and has to be calmed by old Capulet and led away by his friends. To a gavotte, drawn from the Classical Symphony, the guests disperse, leaving the hall dark and empty [Track 9]. Juliet enters, seeking a flower she has dropped during her meeting with Romeo. He appears from behind a column and they dance together [Track 10]. After Romeo’s Variation [Track 11] there is a dance of love, the counterpart of the balcony scene in Shakespeare [Track 12].
The second act opens with a popular holiday in the street. After a folk-dance, Romeo appears. He is thinking of Juliet and is teased by his friend Mercutio. The delicate paces of the dance of the five couples are interrupted by the appearance of a brass band. Dancing continues to the sound of a mandolin band [Track 13] and now Juliet’s nurse appears, seeking Romeo. She gives him Juliet’s ring and Romeo runs out, agitated. The scene that follows is at the cell of Friar Laurence, at first with Romeo and the Friar [Track 14]. They are joined by Juliet, dressed in virginal white, and the Friar marries them. The curtain closes and merry-making continues, as the people continue to celebrate the holiday [Track 15].
In the street once more Mercutio and Benvolio join in the dance, interrupted by the arrival of Tybalt, who glares in angry hatred at Mercutio. Romeo comes in and tries to make peace between them, but Tybalt throws down his glove before him, a challenge that Romeo refuses. Mercutio attacks Tybalt [Track 16]. To Romeo’s despair the two fight and Mercutio is mortally wounded. Tybalt makes off, while Mercutio dies, with a joke on his lips [Track 17]. At Benvolio’s insistence, Romeo resolves on revenge and fights with Tybalt, who has now returned, and kills him. Benvolio urges him to escape and the Capulets gather to mourn their dead kinsman and swear revenge [Track 18]. The third act opens in Juliet’s bedroom. The Introduction suggests the power of the Duke over Romeo [Track 19]. It is early dawn, and the lovers are together. They bid each other farewell [Track 20] and Romeo leaves, as Juliet’s nurse comes in. She warns Juliet of the imminent arrival of her parents and Paris, who now enter, telling her that the Count is to be her husband. Paris gives her a bouquet of flowers. Juliet weeps and is distraught, then angry. Her father tells her she must marry Paris or be cast off. Left alone, she decides to go again to Friar Laurence. In the Friar’s cell she receives the potion that will make her appear to die. An Interlude allows a change of scenery. In her room once more, Juliet agrees to marry Paris and dances with him, although her despair can at times be perceived. She sends everyone away and now dances with the potion. She drinks it and falls asleep. The sound of the mandolins is heard and Paris, with his followers, arrives with presents for his bride. There is a dance of girls with flowers [Track 21]. Juliet shows no sign of waking and the nurse is sent to waken her. She is found dead.
The Epilogue takes place at Juliet’s grave. There is a funeral procession [Track 22], observed by Romeo, who kills himself. Juliet wakes and sees Romeo dead. In grief she stabs herself and dies slowly, embracing her lover [Track 23]. People approach fearfully.
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
Daphnis et Chloé
 The opening scene is a meadow, near a sacred wood. There are hills in the background, and to the right a cave, at the entrance to which, cut from the same rock, stand three archaic figures of nymphs. To the left, a little further back, is a large rock that vaguely suggests the form of the god Pan. On a second level sheep graze. It is a bright spring afternoon. As the curtain rises, the stage is empty. A chord is gradually formed by the muted strings, and a flute plays a theme of yearning, accompanied by a wordless chorus off-stage. The sound of an oboe is heard, and the music increases in pace, as young men and girls appear, carrying baskets of gifts for the Nymphs. The stage gradually fills and the young people bow before the Nymphs, while the girls lay garlands on the base of the statues.
 Strings and harp start a religious dance, joined by the woodwind. The goatherd Daphnis appears, following his flock. He is joined by Chloé and they move towards the altar, disappearing round a corner. The dance continues and Daphnis and Chloé reappear on the first level, and bow down before the Nymphs. The dance is interrupted at the sight of the couple.
 A violin solo leads to a livelier dance. The girls draw the attention of Daphnis and dance around him, while Chloé feels the first pangs of jealousy. She is drawn into the dance by the young men. The cowherd Dorcon shows interest. Daphnis looks angry, before all join in the dance. As this nears an end, Dorcon tries to kiss Chloé, who innocently turns her cheek towards him, but Daphnis pushes him away.
 Daphnis tenderly approaches Chloé. The young men intervene, standing in front of Chloé and gently pushing Daphnis away. One of them suggests a dance contest between Daphnis and Dorcon, the winner to be rewarded by a kiss from Chloé.
 Dorcon’s grotesque dance, with its brass accompaniment, causes amusement, and the young people imitate the cowherd’s clumsy movements. There is general laughter as Dorcon ends his dance.
 Daphnis answers with a graceful dance, and is unanimously declared the winner. Dorcon too comes forward, but is chased away by the laughing crowd. The laughter breaks off and Daphnis and Chloé embrace. The young people move away, taking Chloé with them. Daphnis stands motionless, as if in ecstasy. Voices are heard offstage, receding gently into the distance. Daphnis lies flat on the grass, holding his face in his hands.
 Lyceion, a woman of greater experience, enters and, seeing the young goatherd, lifts his head, holding her hands in front of his eyes. Daphnis thinks that it is Chloé. He then recognises Lyceion and tries to escape. Lyceion, however, dances, dropping one of her veils, seemingly by accident. Daphnis picks it up and puts it round her. She continues her dance, which grows increasingly excited. She drops another veil, which Daphnis again picks up, before running off, mocking the young goatherd. The sound of weapons is heard and cries of war, coming nearer. On the second level girls are seen running away, followed by pirates. Daphnis wonders about Chloé, who may be in danger, and goes out to help her. Chloé runs in, distraught, seeking to escape. She throws herself down in front of the Nymphs’ altar, begging their protection. A band of pirates bursts in, see her, and carry her off. Daphnis returns, looking for her, and sees a sandal she has dropped. Mad with despair, he curses the gods who have failed to protect her and falls fainting before the entrance to the cave.
 The countryside is covered with a strange light. A small flame burns on the head of one of the statues. The nymph comes to life and comes down from her pedestal, followed by the second and third nymph.
 They play together, starting a slow, mysterious dance. They see Daphnis and, leaning over him, dry his tears. Reviving him, they lead him towards the rock and call on Pan. The figure of the god gradually appears, and Daphnis prostrates himself in supplication. All fades away.
 Distant voices are heard again, off-stage, as the scene changes.
 There is a dull light and the pirate camp is seen, set on a rocky shore. The pirates busy themselves with their plunder. Torches bring more light on the scene. The pirates dance, at first to a rough accompaniment. A quieter interlude is followed by a dance of greater excitement, after which the men fall, exhausted.
 Bryaxis, their leader, orders the prisoner to be brought in. Two pirates bring Chloé in, her hands tied. Bryaxis orders her to dance. Her dance is one of supplication, accompanied by the cor anglais. She tries to escape, but is roughly brought back again. In despair she resumes her dance. Once more she tries to escape, but is brought back again, sinking into despair, as she thinks of Daphnis. Bryaxis wants her taken away, and he carries her off in triumph. Suddenly the atmosphere changes. Little flames appear, lit by invisible hands, and fantastic creatures are seen, crawling or leaping. Satyrs appear on all sides and encircle the pirates. The earth opens. The shadow of Pan is seen over the mountains in the background, menacing. The pirates all flee in fear.
 The scene changes to that of the opening, as night passes away. The only sound is that of the streams of dew flowing down over the rocks. Daphnis is still prostrate before the Nymphs’ cave. Little by little day dawns. Birds sing and in the distance a shepherd passes by with his flock. Another shepherd is seen in the background. A group of herdsmen appear, looking for Daphnis and Chloé. They see Daphnis and rouse him. In distress, he looks around for Chloé. At last she appears, surrounded by shepherdesses. They throw themselves into one another’s arms. Daphnis sees Chloé’s crown; his dream was prophetic; the intervention of Pan is clear.
 The old shepherd Lammon explains that Chloé has been saved because Pan remembered the nymph Syrinx, whom he loved. Daphnis and Chloé mime the adventure of Pan and Syrinx. Chloé represents the young nymph wandering in the meadow. Daphnis, as Pan, appears and declares his love. The nymph rejects him, but the god becomes more insistent. She disappears among the reeds. In despair, he seizes some reed stems and makes a flute, on which he plays a melancholy melody. Chloé re-appears and represents, in her dance, the sound of Pan’s flute. Her dance becomes more and more lively until she falls, exhausted, into the arms of Daphnis.
 Eventually before the altar of the Nymphs Daphnis swears faith, offering two sheep. A group of young girls, dressed as bacchantes, with tambourines, enters. Daphnis and Chloé embrace tenderly. Young men join them, and they dance in joy, bringing the ballet to an end.
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
Stravinsky: Firebird (Suite)
The second Suite from The Firebird starts with an Introduction. The Firebird dances. Prince Ivan, who has pursued the Firebird, captures the exotic creature in the magic garden of the ogre Kashchey. He releases her when she gives him one of her feathers, to be used to summon her help in moments of danger. Kashchey holds prisoner thirteen princesses, who dance together, observed by Prince Ivan, to a theme taken from an old Russian folk-song. Ivan falls in love with the beautiful Tsarevna, one of the princesses held prisoner by Kashchey. The infernal dance of the ogre Kashchey and his subjects, finally to be defeated by Prince Ivan with the help of the Firebird, is followed in the Suite by a Lullaby. The Suite ends with the rejoicing of the Finale, when the Prince and his Princess are united.
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
The Suite is in four tableaux. The opening scene shows the Shrovetide Fair in St Petersburg [Track 1]. There are holiday crowds in Admiralty Square. On one side a man plays a hurdy-gurdy, the sound rivalled when another appears with a musical box. The Showman appears and draws back the curtains of his puppet theatre to show Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Blackamoor, puppets that he brings to life with his flute [Track 2]. The puppets dance, eventually mingling with the people in the square [Track 3]. In the second scene Petrushka is seen in his cell suffering with the cruelty of his master and hoping to find relief in his love for the Ballerina, who rejects him [Track 4]. The Blackamoor, however, is seen relaxing in his cell, playing with a coconut, shaking it and then kneeling before it [Track 5]. The Ballerina dances [Track 6] and is charmed by the Blackamoor, with whom she dances [Track 7]. Their love scene is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Petrushka, furiously jealous. The Blackamoor kicks him out. In the fourth scene night has fallen on the square. Groups of revellers dance [Track 8]. There is a dance of wet-nurses [Track 9], followed by a peasant with a performing bear [Track 10], a drunken merchant scatters bank notes, accompanied by two gypsies [Track 11] and the coachmen dance [Track 12]. A group of masqueraders rush in [Track 13], while a disturbance is heard from the puppet theatre. Petrushka emerges, pursued by the Blackamoor [Track 14], who kills him with his scimitar. As snow falls, Petrushka dies [Track 15]. The Showman reassures the crowd, showing them that Petrushka is only a puppet [Track 16]. As night comes on, however, and the people disperse, the ghost of Petrushka is seen above the booth, mocking them [Track 17].
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
The Rite of Spring
Drawing on pagan Russia as its source of inspiration, The Rite of Spring opens with the Adoration of the Earth, the introduction to which is marked by the evocative bassoon solo with which it starts and finishes [Track 18], leading without a break to the forceful rhythm of the Augurs of Spring, Dances of the Young Girls [Track 19]. The Ritual Abduction follows, with two groups of girls, dressed in red, pursued in a simulated ritual of abduction by the young men [Track 20]. The Spring Rounds are introduced by trills on the flutes, with a simple Russian clarinet melody, the dancers moving in circles [Track 21]. Now the Ritual of the Two Rival Tribes begins, interrupted by the Procession of the Sage, as the tribal elders lead in their wise old high priest [Track 22]. He lies prone on the ground, in adoration of the earth, after which the people celebrate with the Dance of the Earth [Track 23].
The second part of the ballet is The Sacrifice [Track 24]. The mysterious introduction evokes a twilight scene, desolate and yet inhabited by strange and primitive creatures [Track 24]. A dark hill-top is marked by sacred stones and totems. From the Mystic Circle of Young Girls will be chosen a sacrificial victim, as they circle in rhythmic motion, watched by the tribal elders [Track 25]. Once the victim is chosen, list in an ecstatic trances, her rôle is glorified in The Glorification of the Chosen One, a dance of fierce asymmetrical rhythms [Track 26]. Fanfares herald The Evocation of the Ancestors [Track 27] and the elders, wearing animal skins, celebrate the Ritual Action of the Ancestors [Track 28], moving forward to the stark and exotic rhythms of the final Sacrificial Dance, as the victim joins in a ritual that must end in her own death [Track 29].
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