Elan: Ballet Music from Saint-Saens Operas
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Cat No: MR301130
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 21st November 2011
WorksAscanio: Ballet music
Etienne Marcel: Ballet Music
This superbly recorded SACD offers a chance to discover many of Saint-SaŽnsí exquisitely orchestrated musical jewels: ballet divertissements Ė from Henry VIII , Ascanio, Etienne Marcel and Les Barbares Ė that embody the essence of good taste and refinement beloved of belle ťpoque France. Saint-SaŽnsí passion for historic subjects led him to rework archaic music into masterful pastiches, imbuing the imagined past of his operas with scenes of dramatic splendour. The resultant pieces are melodic masterpieces in miniature.
Elan opens with two dances from Henry VIII, an exotic Gypsy dance and FÍte de Hublon, a euphoric celebration of the end of hop picking season. The music from Ascanio, in the form of an elaborate entertainment for the kings of Spain and France, is set in the gardens of FranÁois Iís palace of Fontainebleau. Reynaldo Hahn described this ballet sequence as a ďsupreme triumph of taste and elegance - the entire Renaissance in a few pagesĒ.
The opera Etienne Marcelís revolutionary theme, with the patriotic French straining against the shackles of tyranny, is given counterpoint in Saint-SaŽnsí suave ballet music. Les Barbares was written for outdoor performance at the magnificent Roman amphitheatre in Orange. Its bloodthirsty tale of conquest, sacrifice and revenge is reflected in the darkest and most brooding music on this CD. Its climax in the triumphant Air de Ballet and Farandole, though, is bursting with the same Dionisian athleticism greatly admired in Saint-SaŽnsí famous Baccanale from Samson and Delilah.
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