A wicked curse, a fairy’s blessing and the triumph of love: The Sleeping Beauty is one of the best-loved of all stories. In this sparkling new album from The Australian Ballet and ABC Classics, favourite moments from Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score are woven together by narration from peerless Australian actor David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings, Van Helsing). The perfect Christmas gift for lovers – both young and old – of ballet, beautiful music and classic tales.
Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY sees the choreographer return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballets first performance; the height of the Fin de siècle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any Fairy story!
Tchaikovsky - almost alone - saw the possibilities of specially-composed music for the classical ballet, which was hugely popular in nineteenth-century Russia. His secret was to work closely with his choreographer and link music and dance routines at the outset: this proved vital to the stage action and the final success of the whole production. Swan Lake was the first, and Nutcracker the last of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores. Following the success of Sleeping Beauty came the request for another ballet, which eventually formed a double-bill with his opera Yolanta. Tchaikovsky agreed, unusually, that some of the Nutcracker music could be played at an orchestral concert before the ballet opened in St Petersburg. At the concert, an enthusiastic audience encored almost every number.
This is the great late-night Sun Ra chillout album you never knew about. The band had been working in a more groove-oriented setting off and on for over a year, as evidenced by the albums Lanquidity and On Jupiter, with both featuring prominent electric bass and electric guitar. Sleeping Beauty picks up right where On Jupiter left off, with the gentle, swaying "Springtime Again" echoing the same mellow vibe of "Seductive Fantasy" from On Jupiter.
This two-disc set marks the beginning of a new project devoted to Tchaikovsky's ballet scores. We start the survey with the complete score of The Sleeping Beauty, recorded on SACD. Swan Lake and The Nutcracker will follow in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Tchaikovsky was approached by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1888 about a possible ballet adaptation of Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty).