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ClassicsOnline Home » GLAZUNOV: Ruses d'amour, Op. 61
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov
Les Ruses d'amour
(Ballet en un acte)
1. Introduction & Scene I
2. Recitatif mimique
4. Farandole & Scene II
5. Danse des marionettes
6. Scene III
7. Scene IV & V
9. Scene VI, Marcia
10. Scene VII, Grande Valse
11. Scene VIII – XI
12. Ballabile des paysans et des
13. Grand pas des fiancés
15. La Fricassée
Glazunov's music for the ballet Les ruses
d'amour was written in 1898, and the one-act ballet, with choreography by
Marius Petipa, was first staged at the Hermitage Theatre in St. Petersburg on
29 January 1900, with the Italian dancer Pierina Legnani, prima ballerina
assoluta and creator of Odette-Odile in Petipa's 1895 Swan Lake. She was
partnered by one of the greatest Russian male dancers of the time, Pavel Gerdt.
The ballet, also called The Trial of
Damis, uses a plot of respectable antiquity. Isabella, the daughter of a
duchess, is betrothed to the Marquis Damis, but resolves to test his love by
disguising herself as a servant. The Marquis eventually agrees to elope with
her. She then reveals her true identity, satisfied at last that her betrothed
loves her for herself and not for her title.
The setting of the ballet is derived from
a Watteau fête champêtre, a choreographic realisation of French rococo. The
music is thoroughly Russian in its orchestral colouring and general language.
Glazunov, nevertheless, makes use of earlier French dance melodies, opening the
whole work with a dance found in the pseudonynous Thoinot Arbeau's Orchésographie
of 1598. I n the whole score there is a considerable element of pastiche,
well suited to the chosen period in which the story of intrigue is set.
Rimsky-Korsakov, a strong believer in his former pupil's ability, seems to have
shared with his informal biographer Yast-rebtsev admiration of what the latter
refers to as ''the unusual mastery of writing and extremely pictorial
beauty" of the music.
Glazunov inspired a considerable degree of
devotion and admiration among his own pupils at the Conservatory of St.
Petersburg, of which he became director in 1905. Subsequent critical opinion
has generally been less favourable, Glazunov's very technical competence
arousing suspicion, when set against the wilder extravagances of untutored
genius or anarchic experiment.
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov was
born in 1865 in St. Petersburg, the son of a bookseller and publisher, who had
been raised to the nobility. His mother was an amateur pianist, and it was
through her lessons with Rimsky-Korsakov that her son came to the notice of
Bala kirev, the aggressive self-appointed leader and
inspiration of the Five, the group of composers of most significant achievement
in the creation of Russian national music in the later nineteenth century. It
was Balakirev who arranged for Glazunov to have lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov.
Fifteen months later, at the age of sixteen, Glazunov completed his
First Symphony, which was successfully
performed under the direction of Balakirev in 1882. Belyayev, who had travelled
to Moscow to hear the first performance of the symphony there, was induced, as
a direct result, to establish his music-publishing company and the Russian
Symphony Concerts that he also sponsored.
Glazunov was closely associated with Rimsky-Korsakov,
sharing with him the task of completing the opera Prince Igor, that Borodin had
left incomplete at his death in 1887. The story that he wrote down from memory
the Overture to the opera, which he had heard Borodin play on the piano, he
later denied, in moments of frankness. His memory, however, was phenomenal, and
Shostakovich, who studied at the Conservatory when Glazunov was director, tells
us that he was able to remember the name, career and compositions of every
Glazunov remained director of the
Conservatory from 1905, when he was appointed after the student protests, with
which he had sympathized, until 1930, although he had settled in Paris in 1928.
He was well known as a conductor in Russian and abroad, and had an excellent ear
and considerable technical knowledge of all orchestral instruments, although
not impeccable in performance. At the performance of Rakhmaninov's First
Symphony, which he conducted, his powers were impaired by alcohol, if we
are to accept his wife's account of the matter, and there were other occasions
when his direction was less than distinguished. Certainly his relationship with
Shostakovich was strengthened by the fact that the latter's father had access
to state supplies of alcohol in the early days of the Communist Revolution,
something that was of material assistance to Glazunov.
There is no doubt that ballet in Russia
succeeded in bringing together a number of elements of particular strength in
Russian art. It was not only the physical ability of dancers, inspired by
teachers like Petipa, but the talent in design, and, above all, the genius for
the smaller musical forms of which a ballet-score must consist and for the
command of orchestration that can clothe these relatively undeveloped musical
ideas so attractively. Glazunov's score for Les ruses d'amour is a fine
example of this particular aspect of national genius.
The Romanian conductor Horia Andreescu
was born in Brasov in 1946 and received his musical training at the Academy in
Bucharest and at the Vienna Music Academy, where his teachers included Hans
Swarowsky and Karl Österreicher. He has won a number of awards, national and
international, and has appeared in major cities in Eastern and Western Europe.
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