This ballet hotch-potch is a pretty random concoction. It contains
recordings from four different orchestras, recorded at different
times in four different locations under different conductors.
It’s a collection of seemingly unrelated French ballet music with
very thin programme notes and varying quality performances. It
seems as though Capriccio have simply got their hands on the licence
for a group of recordings and thrown them all together as a marketing
plan. Nothing wrong with that, and the result is OK, but it’s
really nothing special.
playing is at its best in the first half of the set. Coppélia
is given a very distinguised treatment in lovely, close sound,
though for some reason the selection omits the Mazurka, surely
Delibes’ most famous piece of music. I’ve always had a soft
spot for Les Sylphides, the warm, romantic orchestration
somehow seemes entirely suited for Chopin’s music. It’s probably
the most successful thing in the whole set, played with lush
legato and revelling in the rich textures, the acoustic of
the Christus-kirche no doubt playing its role. Equally, the
excerpts from Giselle are well played and lovingly
problems begin with Cendrillon, which just doesn’t
seem to be that substantial musically. Of course, it’s the
compulsory ballet from a French opera, but it just doesn’t
linger in the memory. Debussy’s Toy Box, on the other
hand, is a distinctively Debussian work with all of the shimmering
textures and flickering uncertainties that he does so well.
However, its story is narrated, somewhat like Peter and
the Wolf, and there are no texts or even a synopsis to
help guide you through, so its subtleties were lost on me.
Sylvia is the biggest disappointment: here is a truly
great ballet score, almost Wagnerian in its scope, but it
is given a very underwhelming performance, vapid and without
Les Sylphides apart, this set is nothing special, but its
price might just tempt you to explore.