|ADAM: La Jolie Fille de Gand (complete ballet)
Queensland Symphony Orch/Andrew Mogrelia, cond.
MARCO POLO 8.223772/73 (2 CDs) (F) (DDD) TT: 66:45 & 69:04
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Adophe Adam (1803-1856) came from a distinguished musical French family; his father, Louis Adam is considered to be the founder of the French school of piano-playing. Young Adolphe was a dilettante, but finally settled down and studied with both Anton Reicha and Fran┴ois-Adrien Boieldieu. Initially he earned his living by playing the organ and gained experience of the theatre first as an unpaid triangle-player at the Gymnase Dramatique and later as a timpanist and chorus-master. After several unsuccessful early operas, he gained attention with his comic opera Le Postillon de Lonjumeau, known for its knock-out tenor aria.
In 1841 Adam had enormous success with his ballet Giselle ou Les Wilis, which also was the first Paris success for ballerina Carlotta Grisi. The following year he wrote La Jolie Fille de Gand ("The Fair Maiden of Gand"), a ballet with a brief introduction and three acts. Although well received at its premiere, it soon was totally eclipsed by Giselle. Perhaps one reason is the libretto. The story takes place in Ghent where heroine Beatrix, daughter of the wealthy goldsmith Cesarius, is to marry Benedict, Cesarius' nephew. However, she succumbs to extravagant attention given her by Marquis de San Lucar who abducts and seduces her. There's an extended dream sequence after which Beatrix realizes the folly of her actions and the ballet ends as she prepares to marry Benedict. The light-weight plot is filled with many opportunities for nationalistic dances and waltzes, with occasional horn fanfares to introduce various activities. There is a detailed synopsis with track by track identification which is quite helpful; it's a delightful score, consistently imaginative. This is the first recording of the ballet, and a fine one. Andrew Mogrelia, known for both his symphonic and balletic work, is perfectly attuned to Adam's enchanting score. The Queensland Symphony doesn't sound like a large orchestra but has been resonantly recorded. A fine issue, essential for balletomanes. Mogrelia's recording of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty was issued on budget-priced Naxos; this is, for whatever reason (probably its rarity), on full-priced Marco Polo.
R.E.B. (March 2001)