TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty / GLAZUNOV: The Seasons (Gunter Appenheimer/ Ondrej Lenard/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.550079)
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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 lengthballets, The Sleeping Beauty, was completed in 1889 and first performed in St.
Petersburg in January the following year, when Carlotta Brianza danced the roleof Princess Aurora, with Pavel Gerdt as the Prince, Cecchetti as Carabosse andthe choreographer Marius Petipa's daughter Maria as the Lilac Fairy. Theinitial 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 winfavour.
The commission for The Sleeping Beautyhad come from Vsevolozhsky, Director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, whodesigned the costumes for the ballet and with Petipa had adapted the story fromthe fairy-tales of Charles Perrault. The Introduction already offers a glimpseof what is to come, a suggestion that there will be difficulties to surmountbefore Prince marries Princess and both live happily ever after. The infantPrincess is to be christened, and the fairies bring their gifts, with theuninvited and spiteful Carabosse promising that the Princess will prick herfinger and sleep for ever. The Lilac Fairy offers in mitigation a reduction ofsentence to a sleep of a hundred years.
The Pas d'action (Rose Adagio) isdanced by the Princess now old enough to choose one of her princely suitors asa 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 thePrincess pricks her finger.
As we know, Princess Aurore is eventuallyto wake once more, when the handsome prince breaks the spell. At her wedding thereis an opportunity for varied entertainment, the divertissement including acharacter dance for Puss-in-Boots and other creatures from the world ofPerrault. Before this we have seen the enchanted forest (Panorama) throughwhich the Prince must make his way and have heard the famous Sleeping BeautyWaltz of the first act, before the tragedy and its happy reversal.
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865- 1936)
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 hasnot fared well at the hands of later critics, although in his own time heenjoyed considerable success. In 1905 he became Director of the St. PetersburgConservatory and was to retain that position through all the difficulties ofthe next 25 years, before leaving Russia to spend his final years in Paris. Acomposer of great facility, with a phenomenal musical memory, he worked closelywith Rimsky-Korsakov, assisting him in that debt of honour he fulfilled inediting the music left by those other members of the Mighty Handful, Borodinand Mussorgsky. To immediate contemporaries he seemed to have brought about asynthesis between Russian music and the music of Western Europe, but to someRussian critics after the Revolution he seemed rather to epitomise the music ofthe bourgeoisie, an impression that may well have been fortified by his dressand appearance, compared by a contemporary English critic to those of aprosperous bank-manager.
The Seasons waswritten for the Russian Imperial Ballet and first produced at the MaryinskyTheatre in St. Petersburg in February 1900 with choreography by Marius Petipa.
There is no particular story to the ballet, which offers a series of tableauxone for each of the four seasons, set to music that seems to continue thetradition established in the three ballets of Tchaikovsky.
After a short introduction the curtainrises to show Winter surrounded by Frost, Ice, Hail and Ice, amid whirlingsnowflakes. For the first of these, Frost, there is a Polonaise, for Ice adance 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 thetemperature for the following scene.
Spring is ushered in by the harp andaccompanied 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 growshotter.
Summer is set in a cornfield, whereCornflowers and Poppies dance, with the Spirit of the Corn. The heat exhauststhem, and as they rest a group of Naiads enter, to a Barcarolle, bringing thewater 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 satyrsand fauns to carry off the Spirit, frustrated by the intervention of theZephyr.
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, andthen the Bacchanale resumes, to be brought to an end by multitudinous fallingleaves. The stage grows dark and the final Apotheosis shows the stars, as theycircle the Earth.
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratislava)
The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 atthe instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in thesphere of music. The orchestra was first conducted by the Prague conductorFrantisek Dyk and in the course of the past fifty years of its existence hasworked under the batons of several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors.
Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1971) and in 1977 itsconductor-in-chief. The orchestra has recently given a number of successfulconcerts 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 hadhis early training in Bratislava, where, at the age of 17, he entered theAcademy of Music and Drama, to study under Ludovit Rajter. His graduationconcert in 1964 was given with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and during histwo years of military service he conducted the Army Orchestral Ensemble, laterrenewing an earlier connection with the Slovak National Opera, where he hascontinued to direct performances.
Lenard's work with the Czech RadioSymphony Orchestra in Bratislava began in 1970 and in 1977 he was appointedPrincipal Conductor. At the same time he has travelled widely abroad in Europe,the Americas, the Soviet Union and elsewhere as a guest conductor, and duringhis two years, from 1984 to 1986, as General Music Director of the SlovakNational Opera recorded for OPUS operas by Puccini, Gounod, Suchon and Bellini.
Lenard has recently been appointedPrincipal Guest Conductor of the Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra of Japan.