Richka, on Apr 7 2010, 08:27 PM, said:
Your posting made me want to re-read "Tchaikovsky's Ballets" also by Roland John Wiley that has been on my shelf for many years, actually since The Author gave it to me, and that I still treasure. What features made up a successful work at the time Tchaikovsky started his career in ballet is discussed in such interesting detail. And the musical as well as choreographic notations of Petipa are illustrated and explained so brilliantly. What a vast amount of research Mr. Wiley had done on this and it is an education in itself on that period of Imperial Ballet. The detailed analysis of the first productions of Swan Lake, Nutcraker, Sleeping Beauty, with revisions of the music. It should be noted that Mr. Wiley also translated these books from Russian! Being Russian speaking myself, I know this could not have been an easy task.
Considering his interest in ballet, Wiley doesn't mention Balanchine or any other of Tchaikovsky's posthumous dance interpreters at all (and yes, he does discuss those who came after Tchaikovsky's death, most notably Stravinsky). Interestingly, he provides a wonderful description of the violin cadenza that begins theme 10 in the theme and variations section of Suite No. 3, which Balanchine used for a pas de deux in Theme and Variations
"It is a ballerina's music in the sparse texture, nuances of tempo, and unobtrusive arabesques in the winds .... Tchaikovsky has introduced an imperial, even Petersburgian image into his finale. ... he affirms the Petersburgian imagery in variation 12 [the final variation] with a massive polonaise. In its spacious dimensions and long approach to the main theme, it presses the boundary between theatrical conceit and the direct musical representation of imperial grandeur" (276-77).
It's hard to believe Wiley hadn't seen Balanchine's work! In any case, I can't recommend this bio highly enough. The musical examples/descriptions using heavy terminology are easy to skim over (although I do wish I could sightread music better). I can hardly wait to get to Tchaikovsky's Ballets