Russian-born conductor Anatole Fistoulari (1907-1995) was strongly associated with ballet throughout his long career. He made two complete recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, plus another of highlights.

Fistoulari Anatole Fistoulari. Photo © Decca

The earlier of the complete versions (slightly abridged) has reappeared from Eloquence, in conjunction with Suites from The Nutcracker, featuring the London Symphony and Paris Conservatoire Orchestras respectively. These are bright, lilting performances, but sound is a factor. The mono tapes from 1951 and ‘52 reveal thin, toppy violins and tinny cymbals (and cymbals appear frequently in Swan Lake). A plus is the presence of violinist Alfredo Campoli, but Eloquence has released plenty of his recordings: I would start with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto if Campoli is the main attraction. Fistoulari’s later Swan Lake(1973) with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra was made using Decca’s Phase 4 Stereo, which specialised in unnatural balances, but it’s one of Phase 4’s less extreme productions. The...

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