Ondrej Lenard

Invitation to the Dance

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This disc of famous dance music from Romantic operas and ballet may not offer many surprises, but Ondrej Lenard and the Czech Radio Philharmonic Orchestra give these pieces their due in both vitality and warmth. The Berlioz arrangement of Weber's Invitation to the Dance -- originally a salon piece for piano -- is played vivaciously with particular care given to details in the brilliant orchestration and tender expressiveness in the opening and closing sections. The suite taken from Adam's Giselle is performed with more élan than this rather conventional music deserves, and the ensemble keeps up interest by supplying buoyant rhythms and a bright sound throughout. The ballet music from the fifth act of Gounod's Faust is by turns elegant, passionate, and diabolical, and the ensemble brings off the closing Allegro vivo with tremendous fury, making it the most startling track of the disc. The "Airs de danse" from Lakmé by Delibes are redolent of perfumed exoticism and mystery, and the orchestral colors are delicately rendered. Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda -- known to many from its hilarious use in Disney's Fantasia -- receives a pleasant but slightly overcautious performance here, possibly a bit too slow to be truly exciting, but it is fine in all other aspects.

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