La Fille Mal Gardée has a long and illustrious history as a ballet, as far back as 1759. But Sir Fredrick Ashton and his Royal Ballet’s marvelous 1960 version has become the staple of the modern repertoire — it is in every major company’s bag of tricks. Elegance, comedy, a great story, and divine music, this ballet has it all.
The music from versions past was a pastiche cobbled together by various composers, all versions of which, Ashton found unsuitable for his new interpretation. As such, he asked resident ROH conductor John Lanchbery to arrange some music. Lanchbery used much of Ferdinand Hérold’s 1828 La Fille score and added and adapted where needed. The score is a classic and matches the stage action perfectly. The music holds up well on its own, too, something that cannot be said for all classical ballets.
This stunning recording has it all. It is an audiophile’s wet dream. Definitive performance and a recording of staggering sophistication. Another Kingsway Hall, Decca gem, this 1962 recording captures a perfect event. Lanchbery inspires the orchestra to greatness (witness the superb solo turns by just about everybody!) and recreates the magic of attending the Ashton ballet at Covent Garden (which I have done several times). The original Decca was recorded by Arthur Lilly and produced by Ray Minshull.
The Japanese company LIM recovered the 44 year old master tape then restored it using JVC’s XRCD 24 bit analog process (super detail is given in the CD booklet). I’ve heard five or six of LIM’s restored CDs. They are benchmarks of digital sound quality. You are paying more (US$30.00), but buying the best there is.
Playing time: 50:41
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