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Cat. No. CHSA 5124(2) Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 2
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CHSA 5124 - Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
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Available From: 16 September 2013
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake

This is the second instalment in our series devoted to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets. Neeme Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra initiated the project last year with the complete score of The Sleeping Beauty. Here they present another, equally well-loved work: Swan Lake. Once again they bring us the complete uncut version of the score, with the pre-eminent James Ehnes lending his magic to the violin solos. The complete score of The Nutcracker will follow in 2014.

In Swan Lake, the Swan Queen takes her melancholy, oboe-led place among the composer’s many heroes and heroines destined never to know lasting fulfilment in love. The story tells of Odette, a princess turned by an evil sorcerer’s curse into a swan, and thus caught between the human and supernatural worlds, until she is finally released from the spell, and united in death with her true love.

This was Tchaikovsky’s first full-length ballet, but its premiere in 1875, staged at Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre, was by no means a resounding success. According to most accounts, the choreography was inept, the shabby sets and costumes were borrowed from other productions, and the orchestral playing was poor.

As such, most ballet companies today base their productions on the 1895 revival by the pre-eminent choreographer Marius Petipa, staged for the Imperial Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky’s score was revised by the composer Riccardo Drigo, also the chief conductor of the St Petersburg Imperial Theatre. Although these amendments may have served the conventional 1890s notion of ‘danceability’, one may argue that the overall cuts and reordering ultimately destroyed Tchaikovsky’s ground-plan of drama and tonality.

In this recording, we present Tchaikovsky’s original score of twenty-nine numbers and four acts, written for the Bolshoy Theatre, along with several supplementary numbers provided not long after the initial 1875 premiere.


 "...Järvi gives us a version that’s certainly more complete that are a number of others.  What I can say is that of the four recordings of the score which I am familiar, Järvi’s would now be my first choice, and taking all other factors into account - superb playing by the Bergan Philharmonic, James Ehns’s beguiling solo violin contributions, and a killer recording - I’d extrapolate from this that Järvi’s Swan Lake is now the one to have."

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare - March/April 2014

 “This is a lively and characterful Swan Lake from Neeme Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra…  The Bergen Philharmonic savour the colour and contour of the dances and have been caught by the Chandos team in a recording that has bite and presence. Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece in dance is presented in a compelling manner to please all the senses. A very fine swan indeed.”
Adrian Edwards – Gramophone magazine – March 2014

  “…Spectacular recording quality allows us to appreciate just how good the Bergen Philharmonic’s playing is. There’s a marvellous cornet solo from Gary Peterson in Act 3’s sequence of national dances, and Johannes Wik’s harp playing is a source of continual delight. James Ehnes’s star turn as guest violin soloist is a bonus. Unmissable, in other words.”
Graham Rickson – theartsdesk.com – 21 December 2013

"... Järvi ensures each individual scene or dance offers excitement, emotion and character and the Chandos sound has splendid depth and impact ... impressive playing from the Bergen orchestra and stylish solo violin contributions from James Ehnes ..."
Ian Julier - International Record Review - December 2013

                                Orchestral Choice
                    Performance *****         Recording *****
 "... Ehnes has more to do in this ballet than he had in Sleeping Beauty; he is superb throughout, raising the ’Danse Russe’ into a smouldering display of Gypsy-style virtuosity. The Bergan Philharmonic offers the most polished playing, driven ny Järvi,,,"
Daniel Jaffé - BBC Music magazine - Christmas 2013

             CD of the Week

“…The veteran Neeme Järvi gives us Swan Lake exactly as the composer intended; all 29 numbers from the original score, plus some supplementary pieces provided by the composer just after the premiere. But what really makes this set such a compelling purchase is not the impeccable musicology, but the exhilarating performance of all 155 minutes of this extraordinary score… Right from poor Odette’s opening oboe solo, the Bergen Philharmonic play most beautifully, confirming their fast-rising reputation. And it’s luxury casting by Chandos to bring in the Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes for the violin solos.” *****
David Mellor – The Mail on Sunday – 20 October 2013

"... Over two and a half hours of glorious music is here with an added attraction as the violin solos are played by the golden toned Canadian James Ehnes ..."
Peter Spaull - Liverpool Post 24 October 2013

"...There is music seldom heard here in the theatre ... his [Jarvi’s] light touch keeps the Bergen players on their toes. Ehnes glitters in his virtuoso solos."
Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times (Culture magazine) - 13 October 2013


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