The opera stage, while primarily focused on vocal music, has also provided its audiences with a large catalog of sumptuous dance numbers, ranging from brief selections to full ballet. Eiji Oue and his Minnesota Orchestra tackle this largely 19th century repertoire, performing some beloved works that many listeners will immediately recognize and some that are perhaps not so familiar.
Exotic Dances from the Opera was recorded at the same time as Stravinsky and, once again conductor and musicians are most definitely on the same page for these short but engaging dances. The playlist includes
- Rimsky Korsakov: Dance of the Tumblers from The Snowmaiden: (3:49):
- R. Strauss: Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome: (9:44)
- Tchaikovsky: Hopak from Mazeppa: (4:13)
- Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves from Khovanschina: (6:54)
- Rabaud: Dances from Marouf, Cobbler of Cairo: (15:01)
- Rubinstein: Ballet Music from The Demon: (9:06)
- Dvorak: Polonaise from Rusalka: (4:35)
- Saint-Saens: Bacchanale from Samon et Delilah (7:31)
Exotic is a term that clearly applies to these dances that are sufficiently different in style from one another to avoid a program that might otherwise be cloying. Rhythm is paramount in getting orchestral dance music across, and Oue and his forces just nail the beat of these lush scores. This is another great entry in the ongoing “Super Hi-Rez” 176.4 kHz/24-bit download series, available online through Acoustic Sounds (www.acousticsounds.com).
The great acoustics of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, opened in 1974, are quite different from its predecessor, the University of Minnesota’s Northrup Memorial Auditorium. The latter had a much drier sound that made some of the Mercury “Living Presence” recordings from that venue brighter than necessary. The newer hall favors a warm full sound that is very close to that of live performance and this is what the Keith Johnson team seems to get every time. This is a spacious full frequency recording that gets both the big and smaller sound pictures of these works absolutely right. You get this right from the start in Rimsky Korsakov’s bouncy Dance of the Tumblers and it carries over to the finale of Saint-Saens’s sexy Bacchanale.
Extensive background on the composers and these dance works is provided by Mary Ann Feldman. Original cover art is also included.
The Definitive Word
This hi-res download is a virtual cornucopia of sound demonstration quality pieces that are also great music in their own right. While I prefer to enjoy listening to them for their musical values, I am certain that a number of audio emporia will use these cuts to inveigle customers into spending more than they had planned on new components. An hour of enjoyable cuts, most of which will be new to many music lovers.