Frederick Ashton has claim to be my favourite choreographer and whose work unfailingly exudes style, charm, poise and humour to name but few of its attractions. All of these are clearly exhibited in this marvellous choreographic confection with music arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery and which was first performed at the Royal Ballet in 1992.
The original tales themselves may be less familiar to the younger generation than previously as there is so much more competition for younger readers to be found on bookshelves today. In addition, their use of language is not so easily accessible to modern young readers. However, the ballet is another thing entirely being very modern with a very modern sense of humour which appeals right across all ages and generations as can be seen in the very enthusiastic audience's responses.
This ballet has proved to be very popular and features seven of the most familiar tales after the opening Mouse Waltz. The finale brings all the tales together in time-honoured fashion. Each tale is delightfully portrayed and equally delightfully danced by all concerned. The costumes and sets are of the same high calibre.
The camera work is totally sympathetic giving nice balance between detail and more general shots. The sound is presented in DTS surround and in stereo and faithfully captures the expert orchestral playing.
The disc is available as a multi-region issue and, as such, can be bought from abroad if it proves to be difficult to locate in the UK. I have found it to be a delightful addition to my library of Ashton ballets and am sure that it will give great pleasure to children of all ages, including those of more advanced age such as myself! This is, in my opinion, a clear 5 star issue and therefore well worth tracking down.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
I agree with the substance of your review--and take issue only with the word "unfailingly" in your first sentence. Ashton's "Marguerite and Armand" is, in my view, one abysmal exception that disqualifies use of the term; in that work, there is virtually nothing that is balletic: it may even be construed as an attempt (deliberate or otherwise) to destroy the very concept of it. But the work at hand is, as you aptly point out, quite happily the opposite. (U.S. review)
I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)
I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)
I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)