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Thread: French Ballet

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    Default French Ballet

    Ravel wrote great music for ballets. Bolero and La Valse come to mind as choreographed tone poems. I supremely enjoy Daphnis et Chloe, the full work. I've listened to many other excerpts besides what's in the 2 suites, and all of it is really nice. Still, the Suite no. 2 is my favorite compilation: from beginning to end, ecstasy.

    Also, I like Dukas' choreographed tone poem La Peri:


    Otherwise, besides Delibes, I'm not very familiar with French Ballet. Any other great favorites?
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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Yes, "Daphnis & Chloe" and "La Peri" would be my favourites too, together with the quirky Poulenc "Aubade", a bit of a concert piece for piano & ensemble
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b62j1LHwwEE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_r8C1ejIgM

    Ravel´s "Ma Mere L´Oye" also has a lot of wonderful poetry in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moncbg8Fd4A

    and Schmitt´s "La Tragedie de Salome" has been compared to "Sacre", but is earlier:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUd2s1V-QV0 (shortened suite without chorus).


    The rest I know would probably belong to second tier. Personally, I don´t get Debussy´s "Jeux" that much, often considered a masterpiece, and "Parade" by Satie is rather clownish, for instance.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Aug-12-2013 at 06:12.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Check out this unique recording:



    It presents two ballets, L'eventail de Jeanne and Les maries de la Tour Eiffel which were the result of a collaboration between several composers including: Milhaud, Poulenc, Ravel, Auric, Ibert, Roussel, Honneger, Ferroud, Tailleferre, Delannoy, Schmitt and Roland-Manuel.

    Personally, I love the French Baroque and there are a good number of ballets to be found there... as well as hybrids of opera/ballet. This is one particular favorite:

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    Senior Member Selby's Avatar
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    Darius Milhaud's "jazzy" ballets La Création du monde and Le Boeuf sur le toit are both fantastic.

    I will say, however, I know them by their orchestration and have never seen them choreographed and performed as ballets.

    While typing this I found Le Bœuf sur le toit at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJRyL2y9o4c - haven't watched it yet though.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    Ravel wrote great music for ballets. Bolero and La Valse come to mind as choreographed tone poems. I supremely enjoy Daphnis et Chloe, the full work. I've listened to many other excerpts besides what's in the 2 suites, and all of it is really nice. Still, the Suite no. 2 is my favorite compilation: from beginning to end, ecstasy.

    Also, I like Dukas' choreographed tone poem La Peri:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmh3A7ohFnc

    Otherwise, besides Delibes, I'm not very familiar with French Ballet. Any other great favorites?
    Ravel's re-orchestrations of the two suites from Daphnis et Chloe are masterly (combined, they are nearly the complete ballet), but even he could not get around the absence of the full chorus (wordless) which is an integral part of the original full-length piece. The chorus is used as yet an additional instrumental section of an already very large orchestra. You're cutting yourself short, imho, as well as slighting the piece, to not give yourself the real pleasure of hearing it in its original scoring, the full length version.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUS1VOh-aIw
    [An early and still wonderful recording, available and budget, is: Boston Symphony, Charles Munch conducting.]

    I very much like Satie's Parade, and have seen a few (tantalizing) vintage clips of the original production, Léonide Massine (who choreographed the ballet) as the Chinese Magician, etc. This cubist / surreal / dadaist stage work has no plot, outlandish sculptural costumes by Picasso, and was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for the Ballet Russes, performed first in Paris.

    The score is a delight, highly episodic, subversive in its twists and turns, uses also a typewriter, a pistol, a siren, and there is no real plot. I think it is brilliant as well as fun. I also like Satie's Relache, and Mercure, though I have no idea of what the staging was like.
    [One of the best recorded performances I've heard of this, to date, remains the one done by Maurice Abravanel, the Utah Symphony (Satie, orchestral works, a two CD set)]

    Debussy's L'apres midi d'un faune is still done, perhaps as an almost archival bit of programming, the piece picked up and made into a brief ballet by the Ballet Russes, that choreography by Nijinsky, who danced the lead role. Jeux I believe a musical masterwork, but the storyline of that is a love triangle between three people, played out on a tennis court ! :-) ?

    Poulenc's Les Biches, which I only know in the form of the suite made by the composer, is a fine score, lively, playful, tuneful, alternately ebullient, a bit melancholic, etc. Yet another commissioned by Diaghilev, the choreography was by Bronislava Nijinska. The original full score used an offstage chorus -- I believe as a theatrical surprise, vs an integral part of the complete scoring -- not present in the suite.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_biches
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsP4EwHUwmA

    I think Poulenc's Aubade another amazing piece of music, just recommended it in the "this one, that one," thread of Ingenue's. (page 5, #65 -- links provided)
    We all know *that one* but now try *this one*.

    Dukas, La Péri is another very fine score.
    Last edited by PetrB; Aug-12-2013 at 04:15.

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    Senior Member Neo Romanza's Avatar
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    Two of my favorite French ballets, besides Ravel's, are Roussel's Le festin de l'araignée and Bacchus et Ariane. Absolutely first-rate works.
    "Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." - Sergei Rachmaninov

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    Senior Member QuietGuy's Avatar
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    I wholeheartedly agree. Daphnis et Chloe is what my idea of what heaven must sound like.

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Going back to the 19th century, we have an absolute classic in addition to Delibes:
    Adam - Giselle
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the site but I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Delibes's Coppelia. I listened to it today. The Bonynge, National Symphony Orchestra, Decca recording. All genres of classical music appeal to me and ballet music is one of the forms that enables me to get things done. If you ask what I mean, it is simply that I can do other things while I am listening to it. The problem is, that some ballet scores are so good that all I want to do is listen. My favorites are Coppelia, Giselle and Swan Lake. I am also a fan of Vitezslav Novak's two ballet-pantomimes Nikotina and Signorina Gioventu. There are a few more that I can talk about based on my listening over the years.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I’ve recommended this before.

    https://www.amazon.com/New-York-City.../dp/B06XWVVN64

    Jerome Robbins’ Faun is also worth watching.

    I’ll be seeing Balanchine’s Coppelia in the spring.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Oct-15-2017 at 04:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KJ von NNJ View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the site but I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Delibes's Coppelia. I listened to it today. The Bonynge, National Symphony Orchestra, Decca recording. All genres of classical music appeal to me and ballet music is one of the forms that enables me to get things done. If you ask what I mean, it is simply that I can do other things while I am listening to it. The problem is, that some ballet scores are so good that all I want to do is listen. My favorites are Coppelia, Giselle and Swan Lake. I am also a fan of Vitezslav Novak's two ballet-pantomimes Nikotina and Signorina Gioventu. There are a few more that I can talk about based on my listening over the years.
    Bonynge and ballet music lover , always nice to see another fan.
    Welcome.
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    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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