John Lanchbery

Hérold-Lanchbery: La Fille Mal Gardée [Excerpts]

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The score for La fille mal gardée is credited to Ferdinand Hérold, arranged by John Lanchbery, but in fact its history is much more complicated than that. The ballet, first choreographed by Jean Dauberval in 1789, had a score made up of folk songs and popular songs, but for a revival in 1828 Ferdinand Hérold cobbled together a new score out of some of the original numbers, pre-existing compositions, particularly popular selections from Rossini operas, and some of his own material. Using the original scenario, Frederick Ashton created new choreography for the Royal Ballet and John Lanchbery provided the score. Lanchbery used Hérold's score as the basis for his, but he deserves much more than arranger credit for his transformation of the existing material, particularly in his wonderful sense of fun and his clever orchestration. Humor in music has always been a tricky business, and more often than not, when music is considered humorous, it is because of a humorous text or dramatic situation, and not a quality inherent in the music. Lanchbery's gift for musical humor shines in this goofy scenario, in which an amorous young couple goes through many shenanigans to thwart the girl's mother's plans for her marriage to the village idiot. The present disc includes seven excerpts from the ballet. Lanchbery's performance, leading the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, must be considered authoritative. His approach is appropriately light and graceful and the orchestral playing is sparkling.

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