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8.550324-25 - TCHAIKOVSKY: Nutcracker (The) / GLAZUNOV: Les Sylphides
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865
Tchaikovsky found no particular attraction in the subject proposed to him for what was to be his last ballet, The Nutcracker and the Mouse-king, based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The choreographer Marius Petipa and the Imperial Theatre Directorate commissioned the work in 1891, and the composer worked on the score during a foreign tour that took him, as a conductor, to Paris and to America. The most famous dance in the ballet, the Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, caused Tchaikovsky some initial difficulty, but in Paris he found a new instrument ideal for his purpose, the celesta, a keyboard metallophone invented by Auguste Mustel in 1886, and by June he had sketched out the whole work.
While it was Petipa who had proposed the subject for the ballet, the choreography of the first production at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on 18th December 1892 was left to his assistant Ivanov. Of this version only the Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy and the Prince has survived, while a number of later versions include choreography by Balanchine, Grigorovich, Cranko, Nureyev and Flemming Flindt. The Nutcracker Suite was arranged by Tchaikovsky for concert performance in St. Petersburg in March 1892, nine months before the staging of the ballet. It was an immediate success, each number except one being encored. The ballet itself was not so well received. It was presented as a double-bill with Tchaikovsky's opera lolanta, a work that proved more satisfactory to the Tsar and his subjects. Since then, however, the ballet has become an annual favourite, with its Christmas setting and easily intelligible series of dances.
The room is left in darkness, lit only by the moonlight from outside. Clara creeps in to see her broken Nutcracker once more and is terrified when mice emerge from the wainscot. She jumps onto a chair, while the mice scurry around. As the orchestra reaches a climax, the Christmas-tree grows enormous and the everyday world is transformed, a brief oboe figure arousing a toy sentry, who, receiving no reply to his challenge, wakens his Gingerbread Soldier companions, who engage in a fierce battle with the Mice, led by the Mouse-king, the soldiers commanded by the Nutcracker. The Mice are about to win when Clara intervenes, hurling her shoe at the Mouse-king, who sinks dead to the floor, while his army withdraws. The Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince and invites Clara to travel with him to the Land of Sweets (7 & 8).
The second scene of the ballet takes us to a pine forest, where Clara and her Prince are welcomed by the Snow-King and Snow-Queen, who offer as entertainment the Dance of the Snowflakes (9 & 10). The following act is set in the Kingdom of Sweets, where Clara and the Prince are welcomed first by the Sugar-Plum Fairy, to be carried in a boat over a river of Rose-water. The Prince relates his adventures, with the episode of Clara's brave intervention in his struggle with the Mouse-king (11 & 12).
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov
The ballet Chopiniana is better known outside Russia as Les Sylphides. It was first staged at the Maryinsky Theatre in 1907 with choreography by Fokin and with Pavlova as prima ballerina. This first strongly Polish version opens with a ball-room scene, set to the Chopin Polonaise in A major, Opus 40 No.1, followed by the F major Nocturne, Opus 15 No.1, showing Chopin's feverish dreams during his fateful winter in Mallorca with his mistress George Sand, when tuberculosis threatened his life The C sharp minor Mazurka, Opus 50 No 3, celebrates a Polish wedding and the Waltz in the same key, Opus 64 No 2, allows the ballerina to appear not in Polish national costume but in traditional romantic dress. This version of the ballet ends with the Tarantella in A flat major, Opus 43, set understandably, in Naples, a city associated with the rapid whirling dance Fokin choreographed an extended version of the ballet in' 908 and in' 909 devised a further version for Dyagilev in Paris. It is generally the later versions of the ballet that remain in current repertoire both in Russia and abroad.
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lenard's work with the Slovak 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.
For Naxos Lenard has recorded symphonies and ballet music by Tchaikovsky and works by Glazunov, Johann Strauss II, Verdi and Rimsky-Korsakov.
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