Great Ballet

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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.

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Swan Lake
"With Yablonsky's version of this great work we can enjoy it (if we choose) as a kind of Straussian (Richard) tone poem. The ‘plot’ is fundamentally about the striving of a 'superhero' against evil and allowing him to triumph through the power of love.

So how does Yablonsky’s version compare to the other recordings? Well, Bonynge is operatic in his conception rather than symphonic. Previn for me brings greater excitement than Yablonsky, but once again it is predicated on having sight as well as hearing stimulated. One mentally has to supply the dancing with Previn.

What we have in this Naxos recording is a fine concert performance that allows us to concentrate on the music without having to superimpose movement, colour and narrative. Although we can if we want to - and it is excellent too!"

-- John France, MusicWeb International

"If you want to be reminded just how great the three Tchaikovsky ballets really are - and why The Sleeping Beauty remains the best three-act ballet score of them all then listen to the complete Raymonda. Not that it's a bad piece of work by any means. Even the bottom line - which is that Tchaikovsky simply has inspired dance-melodies by the yard while Glazunov doesn't - is something turned to good use in Raymonda. For while Tchaikovsky finds a new idea or two for each of his characteristic dances, which only throws still more into relief the few truly symphonic stretches of his scores (of which the "Sleep" interlude in The Sleeping Beauty has to be the finest), Glazunov forges connections throughout. A waltz melody becomes a pizzicato variation; even a racy coda turns out to be a brilliant transformation of the grand "Pas de deux" with further themes appended. The three principal characters - sweet Raymonda, her chivalrous hero and the lovesick villain (a Saracen, naturally) - have their leitmotifs, but the plot remains uninterestingly confused. It serves only to provide Glazunov with every flavouring in the balletic hook: medievalism and moonshine in Act I, orientalia in Act 2, a Magyar divertissement in the last and weakest of the acts (poor stuff compared with the outer acts of Coppélia).

That makes for a feeble sense of unity, but few dull moments; and so welcome to a first-rate complete performance. Alexander Anissimov was a conductor unfamiliar to me. He keeps the Moscow Symphony Orchestra on their toes: the strings are keener of articulation than their Bolshoi or Kirov counterparts while balances and dynamics are all observed in an end result of greater sophistication than you might expect from this source (with handsome sound to match). Anissimov excels in the grand symphonic unfolding of the first two numbers and the two Entr'actes, over which he takes more time and care than Fedotov."

-- Gramophone [8/1996]

Le sacre du printemps
"Robert Craft's performance of The Rite of Spring, rescued from oblivion on Koch, proves that in the early ballets he can be both accurate as well as exciting. Extremely well played by the London Symphony, seldom have the complex textures in the Introduction to Part One or the Ritual of the Rival Tribes sounded so clear and natural. And yet, in the Dance of the Earth, or the concluding Sacrificial Dance, Craft pulls out all of the stops to really impressive effect."

-- David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8501055

  • UPC: 730099105545

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Adolphe Adam, Alexander Glazunov, Aram Khachaturian, Igor Stravinsky, Léo Delibes, Maurice Ravel, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev

  • Conductor: Alexander Anissimov, Alexander Rahbari, André Anichanov, Andrew Mogrelia, Dmitry Yablonsky, Jun Märkl, Ondrej Lenárd, Robert Craft, Theodore Kucher

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Brussels Belgian Radio & TV Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Lyon National Orchestra, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra, Ukranian State Symphony Orchestra