Les Ballets Russes, Vol 9

Milhaud’s train and Sauget’s cat for ninth Ballets Russes disc

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Henri(-Pierre) Sauguet, Vincenzo Tommasini, Darius Milhaud

Genre:

Orchestral

Label: Hänssler

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: CD93 296

CD93 296. Les Ballets Russes, Vol 9. Reimer

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
La chatte Henri(-Pierre) Sauguet Composer
Robert Reimer
German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern
Les femmes de bonne humeur Vincenzo Tommasini Composer
German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern
Robert Reimer
Le train bleu Robert Reimer
Darius Milhaud Composer
German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern
This is Vol 9 of Hänssler Classic’s survey of Ballets Russes scores and features three Diaghilev commissions. Most of us know Milhaud through works such as Le boeuf sur le toit and Scaramouche but Le train bleu falls outside my expectations of the composer. As a pastiche of pallid, second-rate Edwardian salon music it is spot on, a suite that would show Edward German on an off-day in a good light. It comes as no surprise to learn that Milhaud composed the score in a hurry while simultaneously fulfilling another commission (Salade for Massine). Unless they are, perversely, sole examples in this politely tonal score of wrong-note harmony, there are a couple of clinkers from the trumpet at 5'00" in No 6, ‘Entrée de la championne de tennis’.

Vincenzo Tommasini’s orchestrations of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas are a far more attractive proposition. His once-popular suite fashioned from the score of The Good Humoured Ladies (1917) is usually paired with Walton’s The Wise Virgins. I take Robert Irving’s 1962 recording as the benchmark which, despite its half-century, sounds well with tempi benefiting from being a notch up from Reimer’s.

The discovery (for me, at least) is La chatte by the forgotten Henri Sauguet (1892-1974), sometimes included as a seventh member of Les Six. Chic, economical, tuneful and unmistakably Gallic, the suite’s Overture and eight movements are a delightful soufflé to accompany a story about a young man falling in love with a cat – ‘a silver affair with sodomite reflexes’, according to an early critic of the ballet. The playing, again, is redolent of page-turning efficiency rather than infectious enthusiasm.

Gramophone Print

  • Print Edition

From £67/year

Subscribe

The Gramophone Digital Club

  • Digital Edition
  • Digital Archive
  • Reviews Database
  • Events & Offers

From £90/year

Subscribe

Gramophone Reviews

  • Reviews Database

From £67/year

Subscribe

Gramophone Digital Edition

  • Digital Edition
  • Digital Archive

From £67/year

Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.