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ClassicsOnline Home » TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty / GLAZUNOV: The Seasons
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
The Sleeping Beauty
Introduction - Lilac Fairy
Pas d'action (Adagio)
Pas de caractere (Puss-In-Boots)
The second of Tchaikovsky's full length
ballets, The Sleeping Beauty, was completed in 1889 and first performed in St.
Petersburg in January the following year, when Carlotta Brianza danced the role
of Princess Aurora, with Pavel Gerdt as the Prince, Cecchetti as Carabosse and
the choreographer Marius Petipa's daughter Maria as the Lilac Fairy. The
initial response to the work was cool, damned by the faint praise of the Tsar,
who remarked that it was very nice. The ballet was only gradually to win
The commission for The Sleeping Beauty
had come from Vsevolozhsky, Director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, who
designed the costumes for the ballet and with Petipa had adapted the story from
the fairy-tales of Charles Perrault. The Introduction already offers a glimpse
of what is to come, a suggestion that there will be difficulties to surmount
before Prince marries Princess and both live happily ever after. The infant
Princess is to be christened, and the fairies bring their gifts, with the
uninvited and spiteful Carabosse promising that the Princess will prick her
finger and sleep for ever. The Lilac Fairy offers in mitigation a reduction of
sentence to a sleep of a hundred years.
The Pas d'action (Rose Adagio) is
danced by the Princess now old enough to choose one of her princely suitors as
a husband. The celebrations are to be interrupted the revenge of Carabosse,
who, disguised as an old woman, offers the present of a spindle, on which the
Princess pricks her finger.
As we know, Princess Aurore is eventually
to wake once more, when the handsome prince breaks the spell. At her wedding there
is an opportunity for varied entertainment, the divertissement including a
character dance for Puss-in-Boots and other creatures from the world of
Perrault. Before this we have seen the enchanted forest (Panorama) through
which the Prince must make his way and have heard the famous Sleeping Beauty
Waltz of the first act, before the tragedy and its happy reversal.
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865
The Seasons Opus 67
Scene 1 Winter
Introduction - Four Variations
(Frost, Ice, Hail & Snow) and Coda
Scene 2 Spring Scene
Scene 3 Summer
Scene - Waltz of the Cornflowers &
Poppies - Barcarolle - Variation and Coda
Scene 4 Autumn
Bacchanale - Appearance of the Seasons
(Winter, Spring, Bacchanalian Dance, Summer) - Scene and Apotheosis
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov has
not fared well at the hands of later critics, although in his own time he
enjoyed considerable success. In 1905 he became Director of the St. Petersburg
Conservatory and was to retain that position through all the difficulties of
the next 25 years, before leaving Russia to spend his final years in Paris. A
composer of great facility, with a phenomenal musical memory, he worked closely
with Rimsky-Korsakov, assisting him in that debt of honour he fulfilled in
editing the music left by those other members of the Mighty Handful, Borodin
and Mussorgsky. To immediate contemporaries he seemed to have brought about a
synthesis between Russian music and the music of Western Europe, but to some
Russian critics after the Revolution he seemed rather to epitomise the music of
the bourgeoisie, an impression that may well have been fortified by his dress
and appearance, compared by a contemporary English critic to those of a
The Seasons was
written for the Russian Imperial Ballet and first produced at the Maryinsky
Theatre in St. Petersburg in February 1900 with choreography by Marius Petipa.
There is no particular story to the ballet, 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 Rowers. There is a dance for Roses,
for Spring and for one of the Birds, all of whom depart as the summer sun grows
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
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.
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra
(Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 at
the instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in the
sphere of music. The orchestra was first conducted by the Prague conductor
Frantisek Dyk and in the course of the past fifty years of its existence has
worked under the batons of several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors.
Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1971) and in 1977 its
conductor-in-chief. The orchestra has recently given a number of successful
concerts both at home and abroad, in West and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria,
Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain.
Ondrej Lenard was born in 1942 and had
his early training in Bratislava, where, at the age of 17, he entered the
Academy of Music and Drama, to study under Ludovit Rajter. His graduation
concert in 1964 was given with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and during his
two years of military service he conducted the Army Orchestral Ensemble, later
renewing an earlier connection with the Slovak National Opera, where he has
continued to direct performances.
Lenard's work with the Czech Radio
Symphony Orchestra in Bratislava began in 1970 and in 1977 he was appointed
Principal Conductor. At the same time he has travelled widely abroad in Europe,
the Americas, the Soviet Union and elsewhere as a guest conductor, and during
his two years, from 1984 to 1986, as General Music Director of the Slovak
National Opera recorded for OPUS operas by Puccini, Gounod, Suchon and Bellini.
Lenard has recently been appointed
Principal Guest Conductor of the Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra of Japan.
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty / GLAZUNOV: The Seas...