Dutton 9757, 64:44 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:
Dutton restores several of the lighter-repertory explorations conducted by Antal Dorati (1906-1988) when he and the pre-war London Philharmonic were active (1937-1939) at Kingsway Hall, their principal issue’s being the Scheherazade of Rimsky-Korsakov. I recall a John Field Suite issued by CBS (later on their budget Entre label) with equally delightful sounds. The addition of the Russian Dargomizhsky’s Slave and Gypsy Dances to the mix provides music easily influenced by Glinka and pre-dating Moussorgsky. That Ruslan and Ludmilla seems close by is no surprise, although the hopak’s power could be Tchaikovsky’s. D’Erlanger’s The Hundred Kisses (rec. 1939) is a pleasant divertissement, as forgettable as it is quick and pretty. The Stravinsky Fairy’s Kiss is in fact a series of Tchaikovsky transpositions; here (July 1939), the suite is barely six minutes long. The flute variation is pert, straight out of the Nutcracker’s sonic aura. The Coda suggests that Dorati would have made an excellent conductor at the New City Ballet for Mr. Balanchine.
The music of Emanuel Chabrier (rec. 1938) immediately aspires to more ambitions, perhaps pretensions. Menuet pompous is aptly titled; it then resolves into coquettish salon scene that hints at the dalliance we often hear in Ibert. The Scherzo, Danse villageoise, and Idylle derive from the Suite Pastorale, no embellishments needed. The quality of the LPO strings, winds, and tympani is lucidly transparent, eminently stylish. The Village Dance which concludes the suite moves briskly, a bit of bravura which takes its cue from Massenet’s Alsatian Scenes. Finally, the eponymous School of Ballet, arrangements of Boccherini by Jean Francaix (rec. 1939), which opens with a Lecon in the form of a Menuet. Nice solo violin work, along with oboe, harp, trumpet, and kettledrum. The suite has a brainless rococo charm, essentially harmless, like a Deanna Durbin movie. The Pastorale and Danse Allemande enjoy a lithe energy that Stokowski could have used as well to show off his Philadelphia Orchestra’s skills. One last note: the cover art features the faceless figures of Steinweiss, whose work graced the old Columbia 78s, a blast of pop from the past that touched me.
— Gary Lemco