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Lambert: Orchestral Works
The Classical Shop
release date: November 2000
Originally recorded in 2000
State Orchestra of Victoria
Melbourne Concert Hall
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 54:46
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The Bird Actors
Ballet in one act
Romeo and Juliet
Ballet in two tableaux
I. In a ballet classroom
Gavotte and Trio
II. At a rehearsal of scenes from
Romeo and Juliet
John Lanchberry conducts the State Orchestra of Victoria in unusual works by the versatile composer Constant Lambert
This disc includes the premiere recording of the Overture: The Bird Actors and only the second recording of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Constant Lambert is now recognised as one of the leading British composers of his generation. Lambert studied composition at the Royal College of Music with Vaughan Williams and began his career as a ballet conductor, which gave rise to his meeting with Diaghilev.
This disc is conducted by John Lanchberry who studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music under Sir Henry Wood. In 1951 he was appointed Conductor of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet and in 1960 Principal Conductor of The Royal Ballet, which he left in 1972 to become Musical Director of The Australian Ballet. From 1978 to 1980 he was Musical Director of the American Ballet Theatre and thereafter maintained an extensive international conducting career.
He is well respected for his performances of ‘light’ music, and we are proud to present his debut on Chandos.
Lambert’s life was dogged by serious illness, which after eighteen operations while he was still at school, left him deaf in one ear and with a limp. It is also thought that his tragic dependence on alcohol later in life was due to the doses prescribed when he was young. His health suffered more from sheer exhaustion due to his success as a ballet conductor, one of unique genius and influence on the course of British ballet.
Lambert recognised the revitalising effect African-American music could have on Western music and in 1922 was overwhelmed by the Dover Street to Dixie show which included black performers, such as Josephine Baker and Will Vodery’s Plantation Orchestra.
The title of the short overture The Bird Actors comes from a poem by the youngest member of the Sitwell trio, Sacheverell, and started life as the finale of Lambert’s ballet Adam and Juliet. The piccolo’s leading syncopated first subject dominates the condensed sonata form.
Pomona (1926) was premiered on 9 September 1927 at the Teatro Colón, Beunos Aires and was produced by Nijinska. It is a well balanced set of dances showing Lambert’s influences fully assimilated into a personal kind of English neoclassicism. There are echoes of Stravinsky and Satie, but also of English composers Lambert admired, such as Boyce and Purcell.
Lambert was one of only two English composers that Diaghilev commissioned to write a ballet for his Ballet russes, unfortunately Romeo and Juliet (1925-6) brought him and Diaghilev into violent conflict. Lambert’s score had been choreographed by Nijinska and the original plan was to use sets from Christopher Wood, whom Lambert much admired. Lambert later found that Diaghilev had dropped Wood, was using the far more chic Max Ernst and Joan Miró, and had adapted Nijinska’s choreography. Lambert was furious, but a twenty-year-old composer still at college could do little but talk to the press.
A fusion of jazz, orchestrations and modernist influences creates a heady elixir delightfully handled by Lanchbery and his exhilarating musicians.
The Observer ‘CD of the Week’
‘All in all, an extremely welcome and entertaining disc’.
‘A fusion of Jazz, orchestrations and modernist influences creates a heady elixir delightfully handled by Lanchbery and his exhilarating musicians’.
‘As a composer and conductor of English ballet, Lambert was irreplaceable. Thankfully, these Lambert performances are directed by John Lanchberry, one of the few subsequent English ballet conductors in the same class…’
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