In the world of classical music, ballet scores occupy a niche of their own. The magnificence of Tchaikovsky was preceded by Delibes’ groundbreaking music for Coppélia, and complete recordings include two versions under Richard Bonynge, a bargain version on Naxos with the Slovak Radio Symphony and Andrew Mogrelia, and the famous version on Mercury with the Minneapolis orchestra under Antal Doráti. This new recording also includes tracks with practical variations of tempo for dancing to some of the solos.

Most are happy with good highlights, particularly as the full score of Coppélia is a moveable feast; the good bits are fabulous, the rest is a bit ordinary. However, this new version with Orchestra Victoria has me puzzled as it is all rather dull. Melbourne’s second orchestra is a reasonable outfit, as  witness their first-rate playing for Victorian Opera’s recent William Tell, but at times in this rather flat recording the orchestra sounds undernourished. The pluses include Yi Wang’s fine solo violin.

Conductor Barry Wordsworth comes with good credentials from Covent Garden – sadly they are not on show here and the sometimes uninspired musical direction lacks punch. It is not often I find myself unable to recommend a new recording at some level, but I cannot do so here. Nonetheless the ABC, who are obsessed with clogging up Classic FM with Australian recordings irrespective of quality, will lap it up.


Composer: Delibes
Composition: Coppélia
Performer: Orchestra Victoria/Barry Wordsworth
Catalogue Number: ABC Classics 4817212

Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine