The latest release from Chesky Records, which came out this past September 10, is entitled The Zephyrtine: A Ballet Story. It is a score composed by David Chesky for a ballet in six acts, which has probably not yet been choreographed. Chesky calls it a “fantasy for children;” but the plot line is so long and saturated with elaborate details that it will probably strain both the attention and the imagination of most children.
The story itself take a bit of “The Firebird” and mashes it up with The Nutcracker. Musically Chesky draws upon a diversity of instrumental resources that rival those for Maurice Ravel’s score for “Daphnis et Chloé,” while the harmonic grammar tends to be far too uniformly consistent for a large-scale work, although there is at least one intimation of the sonorities of Claude Debussy’s “Jeux.” Lest this all seem a bit overloaded, the entire recording runs only a couple of minutes more than an hour.
The good news is that the score is given an engaging account by the Fundação Orquestra Estúdio under the baton of its Artistic Director Rui Massena. This ensemble is based in the Portuguese city of Guimarães, which was the European Capital of Culture for 2012. Chesky Records is best known for its Binaural+ approach to recording, which enables listeners with suitable headphones to experience three-dimensional sound effects. Unfortunately, this technical imagination is not matched by inventiveness in the music itself. As a result, the 25 tracks of this ballet score labor under that same “uniformity of rhetoric,” which, as had been the case with Chesky’s The New York Rags solo piano album, is likely to lead the listener to say, “Enough is enough” long before the recording has finished.