These two ballet recordings, based on the music of the French composer Maurice Ravel and the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, are recommended to every child, youth and adult whose heart and mind are open for a musical and dancing encounter with the world of fairy tales. Both of them are about a small boy and his dealings with the nature surrounding him. Despite there similarities, though, the two works are fundamentally different. It is the difference between the two which makes this combination so appealing.
There are vast differences in content, the structure of the plot, the type of composition and the treatment of orchestral instruments, on the one hand. On the other, the means used by the Nederlands Dans Theater and the Royal Ballet School to realize the material make ''L’enfant et les sortilèges'' and ''Peter and the Wolf'' two entirely unique works.
''L’enfant et les sortilèges'' presents a fantastic ballet fairy tale rich in witty inspirations in dance, costume and stage design with the choreography and design of Jiří Kylián and the pioneering Parisian opera allusion under Lorin Maazel.
This production was awarded several prizes. And rightly so, for nary any other ballet has ever been met with such enthusiasm and amusement while deeply touching its audiences.
An atypical piece in Ravel's repertoire, "L'Enfant et les sortilèges" combines the waltz with the ragtime, a ballet with lyrical arias, a classical orchestra with wood-blocks. Supported by Ravel's orchestration genius, L'Enfant et les sortilèges explores the fairy world of childhood, its enchantment, its invitation to discover beyond the reality an infinite efflorescence of fantastic wonders.
Acclaimed choreographer Matthew Hart has created a delightful ballet to accompany the ever-popular tale of "Peter and the Wolf". Prokofiev originally composed the piece as a way to introduce children to an orchestra, with each instrument or group of instruments representing a character.
The studio recording features Sir Anthony Dowell as the narrator/grandfather and dancers from the prestigious Royal Ballet School. The lively score is performed by the orchestra of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
The cast features the young students of the Royal Ballet School, who offer a professional-caliber performance, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which provides a topnotch interpretation of Prokofiev's score.
Simple staging and dramatic lighting showcase Matthew Hart's effective choreography of the familiar story of Peter and his animal friends' capture of the wolf. Fluid, graceful motions advance the plot, and every dancer's part, whether representing the water or a main character like the bird, is sculpted for maximum expression.
Royal Ballet veteran Anthony Dowell, narrator and grandfather, gives a dramatic performance as well as a nice explanation of Prokoviev's use of specific instruments to represent specific animals. Adults and children, whether students of ballet, music, or the arts in general, will thoroughly enjoy this wonderful ballet presentation of Peter and the Wolf.