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Robert Irving - The Decca Recordings

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Robert Irving - The Decca Recordings
Robert Irving - The Decca Recordings


Robert Irving: the pre-eminent ballet conductor of his day on home turf and vividly captured in Deccas superbly lifelike late mono sound, with his complete recordings for that label. Despite bringing the orchestras of both The Royal Ballet and the New York City Ballet to celebrated peaks of brilliance in execution, the conductor Robert Irving left no more than a handful of recordings, nearly all made in the 1950s and 60s. They display his unfailing sensitivity to the needs of dancers, sometimes adopting slower tempi than concert performances but deftly maintaining a lively momentum. The works presented here are a mere fraction of the many important ballet scores Irving was closely associated with during his years at Sadlers Wells and the Royal Ballet, and the recordings amply demonstrate his gifts for musical nuance and spry agility. Four Decca LPs have been compiled in their entirety for this newly remastered release. The first of them was recorded in July 1952: selections from Massenets Le Cid and Constant Lamberts polished arrangement of music by Meyerbeer for Frederick Ashtons ballet Les Patineurs. In the early spring of 1953 there followed another Ashton commission, Lamberts own Horoscope, and then the two suites from Waltons Façade, interleaved together in the composers own recommended ordering. On two days in February 1955 Irving and the New Symphony Orchestra (a studio band drawn from Londons ever-whirling pool of talented orchestral freelancers) set down a pairing of Gluck and Grétry from the golden age of French classical ballet, the one grave and gracious (including the celebrated Dance of the Blessed Spirits), the other more lively and comic in spirit. Irvings short career with Decca came to a close later that year with The Lady and the Fool, an arrangement by Sir Charles Mackerras of lesser-known Verdi numbers for a ballet at Sadlers Wells created by John Cranko. An attractive record spirited, elegant and colourful performances. The recording is excellent. Gramophone, November 1952 (Massenet/Meyerbeer) The LSO is on top form, and is persuaded by Robert Irving to give some parts of the enchanting Façade suites more point than I remember hearing ever before [a] recording of the very highest quality: this is the best to be had. Gramophone, July 1953 (Lambert/Walton) The Suite is perhaps the best possible introduction to [Gluck] Ears cannot resist its miraculous simplicity. The disc is a good one, especially in the delivery of a smooth relaxed orchestral sound High Fidelity, January 1956 (Gluck/Grétry)


  1. Name
  2. GLUCK: 17Ballet Suite No. 1 (arranged By Felix Mottl)
  3. GRÉTRY: 819Céphale Et Procris Ballet Suite (arranged By Constant Lambert)
  4. MASSENET: 2026Le Cid Ballet Music (Act II)*
  5. MEYERBEER: 2734Les Patineurs (arranged By Constant Lambert)*
  6. LAMBERT 15Horoscope Ballet Suite
  7. WALTON: 616Façade Suites Nos. 1 & 2
  8. VERDI: 1722The Lady And The Fool Ballet Suite (arranged By Sir Charles Mackerras)*
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