On this record the Symphonic “Pops” Orchestra recreates a half-hour of beauty and excitement from the world of ballet. Their music ranges from heady galloping measures to sensuous oriental languors – in each instance singularly appropriate to the dance. The opening selections are from the pen of Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894). Primarily known as a piano virtuoso whose technical wizardry and flamboyance created many legends in his lifetime, Rubinstein was also a very successful composer of operas. Although these operas enjoyed international prominence before the turn of the century, as they were noted more for pageantry than musical substance, they are hardly ever staged nowadays. The excerpts from the lavish ballets of ‘The Demon’ (1875) and ‘Feramors’ (1863), however, clearly demonstrate Rubinstein’s gift of melody and rich colors of instrumentation. Giacomo Meyerbeer’s (1791-1864) ‘The Prophet’ and Karl Goldmark’s (1830-1915) ‘The Queen Of Sheba’ also belong to the category of magnificently showy and somewhat forgotten grand operas. But surely the brilliant and infectious ballet music of these operas has not faded with age, and their appearance on this record will bring listening delights to many. An effective contrast to these romantic period pieces is provided by an excerpt from ‘The Firebird,’ Stravinsky’s first masterpiece, whose premiere in Paris by the Diaghileff company on June 25, 1910, remains one of the most remembered dates in ballet annals. Mr. Shilkret’s program of exciting ballet music also includes the fiery Venetian Furlana from the first act of Ponchielli’s ‘La Gioconda’ and two vivacious compositions by the prolific French composer, Benjamin Godard (1849-1895).
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