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8.550079 - TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty / GLAZUNOV: The Seasons
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
The Sleeping Beauty
The second of Tchaikovsky's full length ballets, The Sleeping Beauty, was completed in 1889 and first performed in St. Petersburg in January the following year, when Carlotta Brianza danced the role of Princess Aurora, with Pavel Gerdt as the Prince, Cecchetti as Carabosse and the choreographer Marius Petipa's daughter Maria as the Lilac Fairy. The initial 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 win favour.
The commission for The Sleeping Beauty had come from Vsevolozhsky, Director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, who designed the costumes for the ballet and with Petipa had adapted the story from the fairy-tales of Charles Perrault. The Introduction already offers a glimpse of what is to come, a suggestion that there will be difficulties to surmount before Prince marries Princess and both live happily ever after. The infant Princess is to be christened, and the fairies bring their gifts, with the uninvited and spiteful Carabosse promising that the Princess will prick her finger and sleep for ever. The Lilac Fairy offers in mitigation a reduction of sentence to a sleep of a hundred years.
The Pas d'action (Rose Adagio) is danced by the Princess now old enough to choose one of her princely suitors as a 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 the Princess pricks her finger.
As we know, Princess Aurore is eventually to wake once more, when the handsome prince breaks the spell. At her wedding there is an opportunity for varied entertainment, the divertissement including a character dance for Puss-in-Boots and other creatures from the world of Perrault. Before this we have seen the enchanted forest (Panorama) through which the Prince must make his way and have heard the famous Sleeping Beauty Waltz of the first act, before the tragedy and its happy reversal.
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov has not fared well at the hands of later critics, although in his own time he enjoyed considerable success. In 1905 he became Director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and was to retain that position through all the difficulties of the next 25 years, before leaving Russia to spend his final years in Paris. A composer of great facility, with a phenomenal musical memory, he worked closely with Rimsky-Korsakov, assisting him in that debt of honour he fulfilled in editing the music left by those other members of the Mighty Handful, Borodin and Mussorgsky. To immediate contemporaries he seemed to have brought about a synthesis between Russian music and the music of Western Europe, but to some Russian critics after the Revolution he seemed rather to epitomise the music of the bourgeoisie, an impression that may well have been fortified by his dress and appearance, compared by a contemporary English critic to those of a prosperous bank-manager.
The Seasons was written for the Russian Imperial Ballet and first produced at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in February 1900 with choreography by Marius Petipa. There is no particular story to the ballet, which offers a series of tableaux one for each of the four seasons, set to music that seems to continue the tradition established in the three ballets of Tchaikovsky.
After a short introduction the curtain rises to show Winter surrounded by Frost, Ice, Hail and Ice, amid whirling snowflakes. For the first of these, Frost, there is a Polonaise, for Ice a dance 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 the temperature for the following scene.
Spring is ushered in by the harp and accompanied 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 grows hotter.
Summer is set in a cornfield, where Cornflowers and Poppies dance, with the Spirit of the Corn. The heat exhausts them, and as they rest a group of Naiads enter, to a Barcarolle, bringing the water 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 satyrs and fauns to carry off the Spirit, frustrated by the intervention of the Zephyr.
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, and then the Bacchanale resumes, to be brought to an end by multitudinous falling leaves. The stage grows dark and the final Apotheosis shows the stars, as they circle the Earth.
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lenard's work with the Czech 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.
Lenard has recently been appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra of Japan.
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