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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
Orchestral Works - Volume 9
The Truth About the Russian Dancers (1920) [46.36]
From Dusk till Dawn (1917) [20.25]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Bryden Thomson
rec. St Jude’s Church, London, 5-6 March 1990. DDD
CHANDOS CLASSICS CHAN10457X [67.12]
Experience Classicsonline

Bax’s The Truth About Russian Dancers, subtitled “showing how they love, how they marry, how they are made, with how they die and live happily ever after”, is music to a play by J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame). The story is of a prima ballerina from the Russian Ballet who marries into an upper-class English family. Bax was commissioned to write it in 1920 for Tamara Karsavina, the prima ballerina for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes to dance at the London Coliseum. The dance company had returned to London the previous year. It was revised in 1926 at the Savoy Theatre, although the full score wasn’t published - only three dances, in a piano arrangement. This recording is the first performance of the full score since the actual productions, and the premiere recording of this music.
 
The other work on the disc is From Dawn to Dusk, another ballet, commissioned by Mrs. Lowther - later Lady Cholmondley - who also commissioned Elgar’s Sanguine Fan. The premiere was conducted by the light music composer Norman O’Neill for a charity performance at London’s Palace Theatre, with Mrs. Lowther dancing the lead. This ballet depicts some china figures – a Dresden male, a clown, and a Russian ballerina – that come to life one night at midnight, and dance and quarrel throughout the night.
 
The music of both works is hugely attractive – full of character and charm, and well-written, if not always particularly memorable. The performances are vibrant and energetic, conducted with conviction and understanding. The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays with panache, in spontaneous, witty, sparkling performances. This may not be the best disc for those new to Bax to discover him with, but it is certainly of great interest to those familiar with his work.
 
Em Marshall

see also review by Brian Wilson

Track detail
The Truth About the Russian Dancers
Overture. Vivace [4.10]
Entry of Karissima [1.15]
Karissima plays golf [3.02]
Karissima and Lady Vere [1.36]
The Walking Lesson [1.12]
Lord Vere tells his mother of his love for Karissiplf [0.18]
Karissima appeals for love [0.28]
Karissima droops pathetically [1.02]
Karissima's dance of joy [0.42]
The Wedding Ceremony [1.37]
Dance: corps de ballet [1.18]
The Wedding Service [2.52]
A Wild Night-The Maestro [1.54]
The Clock strikes Twelve [0.17]
Lord Vere pleads for a child [0.40]
Karissima and Lord Vere go off in gay delight [0.36]
Dance of Motherhood [6.16]
The Funeral of Karissima [5.34]
Child's Dance [2.16]
Karissima's Farewell [5.57]
Finale. Allegro vivace [3.23]
From Dusk till Dawn
Prelude: Summer Night at the Window [2.07]
The Wind Dances in the Garden [1.47]
Molto piu lento: Midnight Strikes [0.38]
The Awakening [1.35]
The Flower's Dance [1.27]
The Dancer and the Clown [1.32]
The Wind Dances through the Room [1.11]
Piu lento: The Clock strikes One [0.16]
The Flowers Dance Again [3.11]
Piu lento: The Clock strikes Two [0.16]
The Dancer falls weeping into the Clown's arms [0.12]
The Clown thrusts her aside and scolds her [0.09]
They quarrel [0.37]
The Wind [1.15]
The Dancer humbly draws the Clown's attention to the sad fate of his rival [0.59]
The Dancer turns back to the Clown [0.50]
Dawn [0.27]
The Clock strikes Three [0.16]
Everything is still, a sad silence reigns [0.52]
The Wind blows the Dancer into the Clown's stiff arms [0.39]

 


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