[ Decca Australian Eloquence / 2 CD ]
Release Date: Sunday 15 December 2013
While Richard Bonynge has long been associated with opera, particularly with that of the Bel Canto age, he has been one of the most active revivers and conductors of ballet in the 20th and 21st centuries. His recordings of the major Romantic classical ballet scores have been critically acclaimed, but he has also been responsible for making - often - the single recording of many ballet masterpieces that disappeared from view, and in doing so, showing just how worthy was their revival. There were three classic ballet 'bon-bon' LPs he recorded in the 1960s - Homage to Pavlova, Pas de deux and The Art of the Prima Ballerina. All are now reissued on Decca Eloquence.
The Art of the Prima Ballerina, a lavish 2-LP set, here appears as per the original LP coupling, with illustrations and detailed notes. The album was conceived with one of the reigning prima ballerinas of the 20th century, Dame Alicia Markova, with whom Richard Bonynge collaborated extensively on the creation of this set. Markova also attended some of the recording sessions. Including moments from all three Tchaikovsky ballets, as well as the celebrated music for Giselle, the set focuses, however, largely on forgotten ballet scenes and moments by Pugni, Drigo, Donizetti and Minkus, as well as an anonymous Bolero.
"[Bonynge] has a nice sense of rubato, and plenty of verve when this is called for. … The recording is extremely vivid" Gramophone Magazine
"This set is a perfect and well-conceived tribute to Richard Bonynge's indefatigable quest to resurrect forgotten treasures: it's a feast of some of the most delightful and piquant ballet music of the (mainly) nineteenth century. This set is highly recommended." (Penguin Guide)
"This new Decca set is a fine release and should keep balletomanes and lovers of well-crafted Romantic music happy for hours. It reminds us of a time when grace and elegance were quantities to be valued."
International Record Review
Minkus - La Bayadere,
Drigo - Pas de Trois,
Rossini: Guillaume Tell - Ballet music
Adam - Giselle (Excerpts),
Lovenskjold - La Sylphide,
Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake: Pas de Deux
Donizetti: Ballabile (from La Favorite)
Minkus - Pas de Deux Don Quixote,
Anon.: Bolero 1830
Pugni: Pas de quatre
Tchaikovsky - Sleeping Beauty Pas de Deux (act 3)
Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Pas de Deux