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French Ballet Music of the 1920s
Philharmonia / Simon - French Ballet Music of the 1920s
The Classical Shop
release date: February 2005
Originally recorded in 2004
All Saints' Church, Tooting, London
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 50:43
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French Ballet Music of the 1920s
Select Complete Single Disc for
L'Éventail de Jeanne
Ballet in One Act
by ten French composers
Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel
Ballet in One Act
by members of the
Groupe des Six
by Jean Cocteau
Ouverture. Le 14 juillet
Discours du général
Polka pour deux cornets à pistons
La Baigneuse de Trouville
Carte postale en couleurs
Fugue du Massacre
Valse des dépêches
Quadrille. Pantalon - Été - Poule - Pastourelle - Final
Sortie de la noce
These two French ballet scores contain colourful contributions from the greatest French composers of the day. L’Éventail de Jeanne was a labour of love, a co-operative venture between the composers, written for Madame Jeanne Dubost, a Parisian hostess and patron of the arts. Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel was a commission from Jean Cocteau to the composers of Le Six Français. This is a fascinating and important recording, for though one or two of its movements had been recorded separately, this was the first time that L’Éventail de Jeanne had been available in its entirety and it featured a number of recording premieres, even of music by some of the more prominent composers.
Geoffrey Simon and the Philharmonia orchestra were fulsomely praised for the quality of these performances.
This remains the only available recording of the complete score of L’Éventail de Jeanne.
The disc is now available at mid-price.
During the 1920s many French composers reacted against the Wagnerian influences of the late nineteenth century, the impressionism of Debussy, and the dominating atmosphere of the circle round César Franck, and turned instead to the everyday world – the circus, the music hall, the fairground and jazz – for inspiration. The two French ballet scores presented here combine many of these elements and being collaborative efforts, provide a unique cross-section of the work of a dozen composers – some well-known, others barely mentioned in textbooks on the period.
The ‘Jeanne’ of L’Éventail de Jeanne was a Parisian hostel and patroness of the arts who also ran a children’s ballet school. In the spring of 1927 she capriciously presented ten of her composer friends with leaves from her fan, asking each of them to write a little dance for her pupils. The first performance took place in 1927. The children were dressed in fairytale costumes and the décor was enlivened by a set designed with mirrors. Such was its success that two years later it was performed at the Paris Opera with the little Tamara Toumanova, who was later to become a famous international ballet star.
Jean Cocteau, the Parisian aesthete, asked the composers which made up the Les six Français to write the music for a new stage work for the Swedish Ballet. Cocteau’s project was to be a surrealist fantasy which the author described as a spectacle – ‘a sort of secret marriage between Ancient-Greek Tragedy and a Christmas Pantomime’. The story of Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel takes place on the newly built Eiffel Tower of the 1890s and satirises a petit-bourgeois wedding party celebrating the bride and groom’s nuptials with a banquet and wedding photograph. However, the words ‘Watch the Birdie!’ are the signal for some strange apparitions to materialise through the lens of the camera!
…these pieces are full of imagination and fun. Geoffrey Simon and the Philharmonia Orchestra give a very good account of themselves and the Chandos recording is little short of spectacular.
The Penguin Complete Guide to Compact Discs
I listened to these two on-act pastiche ballets on a broiling hot, humid June night when it was 84 degrees in my living room and said, ‘who needs air conditioning! This is better than AC!’… What gorgeous playing and sound in All saints’ Church Tooting (a suburb of London).
American Record Guide
The zany exuberance of ‘Les mariés’ concocted by five of Les Six in the 1920s, is infectiously captured in this colourful reissued, as is ‘L’eventail’, a contemporaneous ten-composer collaboration.
BBC Music Magazine
All this music, Gallic in its unsentimental clarity, demands the cleanest and crispest playing, and this the Philharmonia Orchestra admirably supplies.
The performances under Geoffrey Simon are excellent. They deserve nothing but praise.
New York Times
The sessions evidently secured the right zippy response from the Philharmonia while also providing interestingly colourful sound quality.
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