Various Artists

Best Ballet 100

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Designed as a comprehensive survey of Romantic and modern ballet music, this six-disc compilation from EMI Classics presents excerpts from all the mainstays of the classical dance genre, and a few selections that aren't quite as familiar anymore. No collection worthy of the title Best Ballet 100 could overlook the true greats, such as Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Léo Delibes, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Sergey Prokofiev, and their major ballets are well represented. Also listed are composers who wrote concert works that were later choreographed and adopted into the repertoire, such as the arrangements of Frédéric Chopin's piano music that became Les Sylphides, the Symphonic Variations of César Franck, and the Symphony in C of Georges Bizet. Less familiar names also appear, including such nearly forgotten but once important ballet composers as Léon Minkus, Riccardo Drigo, and Ferdinand Hérold, the latter perhaps the best known of that fading group. The performers are for the most part celebrated conductors and world-class orchestras who recorded with EMI from 1958 to 2004, the period of these recordings; Adrian Boult, Charles Mackerras, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Georges Prêtre, Richard Hickox, and Leonard Slatkin are but a few of the distinguished maestros whose recordings have been anthologized here. As it happens with many of EMI's Best 100 series, the overall sound of the package is decent but a little variable, considering the large number of analog recordings mixed in with all-digital tracks. While this may require some small volume adjustments, it is only a problem for audiophiles, and the levels are quite suitable for home listening.

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