Les Ballets Russes Vol. 6

'Pulchinella', 'Feu d'artifice', 'Till Eulenspiegel' and 'La Valse'

Category: Tag:

For 20 years from 1909 to 1929, the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev and his Russian ballet staged one of the 20th century’s most incredible artistic adventures, redefining theatre, music and dance in every performance.

In 1917 Diaghilev’s company had a great success with The Good Humored Ladies to music by Domenico Scarlatti arranged by the contemporary Italian composer Vincenzo Tommsini. Diaghilev now requested a similar work from Stravinsky. Selecting the music of G.B. Pergolesi for his inspiration, Stravinsky constructed his score from fragments and scraps of unfinished works to compose a ballet with a unified course of action and various scenes. The resulting score was Pulcinella, and was inspired by a collection of stories documenting the amorous adventures of this character from the commedia dell’arte.

Stravinsky’s youthful, orchestral showpiece Feu d’artifice was composed as a wedding present for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s daughter. However, a connection with Diaghilev still exists: the impresario was in the audience when the piece was performed in St. Petersburg in 1909, prompting him to commission the composer for a new work that would become The Firebird. In 1917, Diaghilev drew on another pre-existing piece for his production of Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel, which would become the last piece Nijinsky would perform with the Ballet Russes. Ravel’s La Valse – originally conceived as the tone poem Wien – was commissioned by Diaghilev, but was later rejected – a decision that resulted in a permanent break with the composer.

Haenssler CLASSIC’s Ballets Russes series is unrivaled for completeness and includes many works never before recorded. Each booklet includes historic details of the works performance and artwork from the original productions. World-renowned choreographer John Neumeier has overseen the production of the entire series.

Available on CD and MP3 download, 1.10 hrs, 2010.