20th Century English BaIlets
Cinderella (Philip Feeney)
The Brontes (Dominic Muldowney)
A Christmas Carol (Carl Davis)
All the music on this disc is taken fromfull-length ballet scores commissioned by Northern Ballet Theatre. The Companywas created in 1969 by Laverne Meyer with the intention of providing qualityperformances of classical ballet not only around its home base of Manchester, but alsothroughout Great Britain.
The Company now has its administrative headquarters in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
In 1987 the noted dancer and actorChristopher Gable was appointed Artistic Director of Northern Ballet Theatre,following his appearance with the Company as the painter, L.S. Lowry, in ASimple Man (choreography by Gillian Lynne, music by Carl Davis). Hedeveloped a new artistic policy for the Company, concentrating on thepresentation of full-length narrative dance dramas, in which the impact of thestory told is every bit as important as the quality of the dancing.
The relatively modest size of the Company,(34 dancers, 24 players in the orchestra), has been challenging for NBT in itspresentation of the traditional repertoire. Nevertheless, with an imaginativeand innovative approach to the great classics the Company has enjoyed enormoussuccess with productions of Romeo & Juliet and Swan Lake. Its moreparticular claim to attention, however, is with the creation of wholly newworks.
This innovative policy has resulted inthe regular commissioning of new ballet scores, three of which are representedhere. As with most ballet scores, there are passages in. each of .these workswhere the interest is primarily dramatic - the items on this recording havebeen chosen with the dual purpose of providing a memento for those listenerswho have seen the ballets, and a musically satisfying experience to those whohave not.
For his production of Cinderella, ChristopherGable undertook extensive research into the different versions of the story. Heopted to take as his model the version told by the Brothers Grimm in 1815rather than the more familiar story published by the 17th Century Frenchauthor, Charles Perrault, which was translated into English in 1729 as Cinderella,or the Little Glass Slipper. In Perrault one finds the FairyGodmother with a pumpkin which turns into the coach to take Cinderella to thebal1, the glass slipper and the instruction to be home by midnight. TheBrothers Grimm story is harsher, more cruel and moralistic. Cinderella's 'ugly'sisters are described in Grimm as having "beautiful lily - white faces butugly black hearts" .Cinderella' s Stepmother not only treats the heroinewith great cruelty , but also takes a kitchen knife to her own daughter' s toeswhen it becomes apparent that her feet are too big to fit in the slipper foundby the Prince. The Stepmother and her daughters are blinded by ravens for theirmalice and deceitfulness, and throughout the story Cinderel1a is helped to bearher torments by the support of her dead Mother from the other world.
 Harvest Dance. The peasants, led byCindere1la's Brother celebrate a fine apple crop.
 The Woodcutter'sDance. Some weeks have passed; Cinderella's Brother has fallen to his death inan accident, and her Mother has died also. Grieving the loss of her loved onesshe is cheered by some harmless fun with her friends.
 Pas de Trois.
Cindere1la is excluded from the festivities that mark the Prince's coming ofage. She is consoled by the spirits of her lost relatives.
 Birds. Forced topick up every lentil scattered into the ashes by her malicious Stepmother,Cinderella is visited by a flock of woodland birds who lovingly assist her.
 The Red Bal1. After a statelychaconne, the Prince introduces himself.
 CourtlyDances. The Stepmother and her daughters seize every opportunity to dominatethe proceedings at the Palace and to ingratiate themselves with the Prince.
 ThePrince and the Drunken Father. After a cock-fight, at which the Prince's birdis victorious, Cinderella's Father, who has been neglected by, the rest of hisfamily, drunkenly congratulates the Prince on his success. The breach ofetiquette leads to a violent incident.
 Cinderella preparesfor the Ball. Cinderella's Mother appears with jewelled slippers and ashimmering dress for her daughter to wear at the ball. A flock of white doveshelps her to dress.
 Pas de Deux& Finale. The Prince rediscovers Cinderella, frightened and alone in theashes of the great fireplace. He recognises his love for her in spite of herhumble surroundings and ragged clothes. Gently he wins her trust and her love.
The ballet ends as the two lovers celebrate their marriage amidst flutteringapple blossom and surrounded by their friends.
PhilipFeeney's score for Cinderella draws on a wide variety of styles andmoods, appropriately austere and baroque for the Red Ball, humorous and bucolicfor the Woodcutters, and above an radiant and tender at the emotional climaxesof the work. The small orchestra is used virtuosical1y, with many solopassages. Particular use is made of chromatic timpani to underpin the bassline, and there is an extensive keyboard part.
(The ballet waschoreographed by Gillian Lynne)
Unusually for a ballet, The Brontes isbased on historical fact. Originally from Ireland, Rev.
Patrick Bronte (1777 - 1861) was a prize-winning classics scholar at Cambridge. He spentthe last 41 years of his life as perpetual Curate of Haworth, a vi11age closeto Halifax and therefore of special interest to many of Northern BalletTheatre's regu1acr audience. He married a Cornish lady, Maria Branwell, by whomhe had six children, Maria, E1izabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. Heoutlived them all, and the ballet shows the life of his family through hiseyes, as in his old age he reflects on the past.
 The Toy SoldiersFantasy. Patrick Bronte's wife became fatally ill almost as soon as the familyarrived in Haworth. As she laydying upstairs in the Parsonage, the children occupied themselves withelaborate games they invented around their toy soldiers and the characters fromtheir story books. Their fertile imaginations created worlds where soldiers,politicians, evil fairies and characters from the Arabian Nights all existed happilytogether.
 The Moors. The wildand rolling moorlands were a constant source of inspiration to the Brontes,particularly to Emily, who frequently walked them for hours in all weathers.
 Branwell and MrsRobinson. Anne Bronte became Governess to the daughters of the Robinson familyand, in due course, Branwell joined her to act as tutor to their son. MrRobinson was an invalid, and his wife and Branwell became emotionallyentangled. The third movement of the suite is an un