Label: EMI CLASSICS
This wonderful 50-CD set provides an epic survey of ballet music as a genre, from its origins in the Baroque era with composers such as Purcell and Rameau, through its establishment in the 18th and 19th centuries in France and Russia to the great narrative works of the latter 19th and earlier 20th century and the works of modernism, some jazz inspired. Many rarely-heard scores are included beside the essential repertoire.
The array of Russian music exemplifies the set's impressive scope: beyond substantial highlights from the great Tchaikovsky ballets and other works by the composer, there is music by Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky (from Firebird of 1910 through to Agon of 1957), Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Shostakovich and a number of lesser-known figures such as Liadov and Gliere. The discs devoted to French, British, German and American repertoire also yield a plethora of scores, and there are even four CDs of dances from operas, oratorios and plays.
Among the fascinating rarities in the set are John Antill's Corroboree (1950), a spectacular work inspired by the aborigines of Australia, Charles Koechlin's tone poem Les Bandar-Log (based on Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book), which underpinned Antony Tudor's 1967 ballet Shadowplay, and Constant Lambert's Horoscope. Presented beside much-loved scores by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland is songwriter Cole Porter's only classical ballet, Within the Quota.
The recordings feature the world's great orchestras under leading conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Riccardo Muti, Andre Previn, Simon Rattle, Carlo Maria Giulini, Thomas Beecham, John Barbirolli, Charles Mackerras, Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Roger Norrington, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Leonard Slatkin, Kent Nagano and Michel Plasson, and also leading ballet specialists such as John Lanchbery, Barry Wordsworth, Terence Kern and Robert Irving.