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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67323
Recording details: September 2001
Ulster Hall, Belfast, United Kingdom
Produced by Chris Hazell
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2002
Total duration: 25 minutes 28 seconds

'Again and again while listening to Thierry Fischer's ebullient performances I smile and wish that I had met Jean Françaix' (Gramophone)

'An hour of pure joy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Ulster Orchestra sound captivated by this music, as well they might … pure pleasure from beginning to end' (International Record Review)

'This collection serves to remind us what 20th-century joys can be found away from the fashionable modernists. The Ulster players may not actually be French, but they fooled me. An utter delight' (The Times)

'The Ulster Orchestra has acquired a deserved reputation for the strength of its sectional work and the quality of its soloists, both aspects of performance that come to the fore in Françaix … Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'thoroughly entertaining and immensely intelligent' (The Evening Standard)

'Thierry Fischer secures some authentically Gallic character from the Ulster Orchestra … Wonderful' (Yorkshire Post)

'Très bien composé, ce nouveau disque témoigne parfaitement des influences et des particularismes de l’art clair et spirituel de Françaix' (Répertoire, France)

Scuola di Ballo
1933; ballet based on themes by Boccherini

L'Actrice  [4'58]
Pastorale  [6'09]
Finale  [2'50]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Scuola di celli is dated 1933 in Françaix’ list of works, but some references state the ballet first appeared in 1924. If so, it may be that the music was played either directly from Boccherini’s scores, or in a piano reduction. What cannot be denied is that the designs for the later production were by de Beaumont, and the premiere of Françaix’ orchestral version took place in Monte Carlo on 25 April 1933. Sixty years later, Françaix further arranged music from the ballet for a ten-cello ensemble, as Scuola di celli. The 1933 season also saw the company give the premiere of another ballet by Françaix, Beach, an original score (the English title is authentic) but far less successful.

In one act, the music on which Scuola di Ballo is based has been identified as coming mostly from Boccherini’s numerous string quintets, but the pas de deux, Larghetto, is taken from the finale of the Italian’s Sinfonia in B flat for wind instruments. Based on a story by the eighteenth-century Italian dramatist Carlo Goldoni, Massine’s choreography for Scuola di Ballo tells of a commedia dell’arte company preparing for a production, and the rivalry engendered between a talented newcomer, the established prima ballerina and an endearing but bumbling member of the company. The story is inconsequential, but the music is utterly delightful.

Scuola di Ballo was quite successful. In the late 1930s, Antal Dorati conducted selections from the score on 78rpm discs with the London Philharmonic for English Columbia.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2002

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