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Cesare Pugni

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I just got done watching the absolutly incredible Grand Pas de Naiads from Lacotte's revival of "Ondine".

The choreography was astounding....I mean really, it fits the Mariinksy LIKE A GLOVE. I was amazed at how much the corps de ballet danced during this pas, it was really something. The whole mood of the piece, the music, the opulence of it all, really moved me. I really havnt seen anything like this in a long time. Lacotte is truely at the pinnacle of his art. I really hope that the Mariinsky doesnt take 100 years to release this onto DVD, I really really really want to see the whole ballet!

I could not believe how great Pugni's music was. I get a little annoyed with all of the negative comments directed at his scores, and usually they consist of the same exact comments made by the last guy - rum-ti-tum comes to mind. I find it rather irresponsible that people judge the composer based the few snippets that have survived in modern performance, as Pugni probably knew about theory of music than any composer working for the ballet theatre in his day.

It is the same with Minkus, who got better as he got older, and unfortunately all that survives in performance is his earlier compositions. Theres a recording of his 1884 pas de deux for Petipa's revival of "Giselle", and the music is really sensational, sort of like Pugni in a different dimension.

Regarding Pugni's score for "Pharoah's Daughter" currently in use by the Bolshoi - the score isnt even really his 100%. It was "reconstructed" from a violin repetiteur and a few surviving pages from the Bolshoi's old manuscript, from various parts for this or that instrument. If anyone has ever taken a close listen to the Bolshoi scores for Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake for example, youll notice that whatever manuscript they are use has missing parts in the orchestration, or variations on it. Sotnikov did the orchestration for Daughter. The Mariinsky didnt want to share Pugni's original. Anyway, it isnt exactly a good represntation of the man's talent with ballet music. Most of his surviving stuff in the active reperotry in modern times are not even in his own orchestration. His best stuff was likely when he was working with Perrot.

There is the whole misconception of how Pugni borrowed all the time, which, at least according to Ivor Guest and Donald Sidney-Fryer, two men who have studied everything from Pugni's ballets to his masses, symphonies, and quartets, that he only did this once in a blue moon, and usually at the behest of a Balletmaster or dancer. Theres a bio of Petipa on this web page - http://www.balletalert.com/ballets/Petipa/...Lake/petipa.htm

accusing the composer of basing his compositions on other people's melodies....not true!

Reagrding the score of "Ondine" being used by the Mariinsky right now, did they get it from thier own archives?

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For the Pugni enthusiast there's a nicely-done appreciation recently published:

Cesare Pugni, Marius Petipa and 19th-century ballet music

by Rodney Stenning Edgecombe

The Musical Times

Summer 2006

vol. 147, no. 1985

pp. 39-48


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