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Mordrain (Milan, Italy)

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Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
Price: £7.08

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not overpassed, 12 Sep 2012
I bought and loved Solti's Orfeo when the "authentic" sound was quite an innovation. After many years, not-philological readings have become something as odd as a slow dinosaur. Well, it often happens, but, IMHO, this Orfeo has still value and offers still a lot of pleasure.
Three reasons:
First: the peculiar quality of Gluck music. His sonorities, sounds, melodies are not-so-baroque; they have a quite modern taste that, in some way, fits well even in not-philological executions.
Second: Solti is a pleasure; his Orfeo is never boring, the music is well nuanced, passionate and - yes - he gives you also time to hear each note. It is not necessary to always run through a score to be interesting (e.g. Mozart's Requiem in Celibidache's reading).
Third (and absolutely not the least!): Marilyn Horne. In this role, she is gigantic. She has not only a fabulous voice, incredibily agile and powerful, but she also gives an incredible interpretation. Just listens to "Chiamo il mio ben così" e "Che farò senza Euridice" and you'll never forget neither Orfeo nor Horne: it is so desperate, and at the same time heroic and poetic! Don't lose the opportunity of hearing something so great and pure as Horne's performance: I doubt that any modern interpreter could reach such highness.


Monteverdi - Teatro d'Amore [Includes 44 Page Booklet]
Monteverdi - Teatro d'Amore [Includes 44 Page Booklet]
Price: £8.19

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serendipity!, 11 Sep 2012
Somebody thinks that classical music is... hem... not properly boring, but ground for intellectual and refined tastes, not viable for amusement.
Well, this selection from Monteverdi is exactly "fun music". Not trivial, but absolutely entrancing and also, yes, intellectually ravishing.
It is a charming challenge listening Monteverdi mixed up in jazz sonorities, sung by a countertenor and discovering that it is something absolutely harmonious and that perfectly fits in the listener's ear!
Arpeggiata's members have an absolute maitrise of their art and give in this CD a great example of a lively performance. The singers also are at ease with this repertoire; they approach Monteverdi's pieces not in an operatic way, that would be maybe too stiff and bombastic, but in an intimate, soft, sometimes even ironic way that perfectly fits this repertoire.
Most of all, I appreciated Jaroussky. I have never been fond of countertenor: their sonority was always poor in my ear, a little rigid, and bereft of nuances; muuuuch better Marilyn Horne or Cecilia Bartoli! This was before I listened to Jaroussky, that maybe has not a great power in his strings, but has a so tender, nuanced, allusive voice, that finally I found a meaning in countertenor vocality! Now, in this CD at least two pieces are a wonderful exemple of his interpretative art: Ohimè, ch'io cado (so full of irony!) and Pur ti miro (tender, intimate, allusive). Just these two pieces would be worth the whole CD's purchase.

Try it, at least the preview offered by Amazon, it is really a refreshing musical experience!


Neumeier: Death In Venice (Tod In Venedig 2004) (Arthaus: 101622) [DVD] [2012]
Neumeier: Death In Venice (Tod In Venedig 2004) (Arthaus: 101622) [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ John Neumeier
Price: £24.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of Mind, but few Feet, 11 July 2012
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Here it is another ballet by Neumeier, choreographer that I truly estime for his "literary" approach, and who gave us great ballets, as the wonderful "Die Kameliendame".
This time the challenge is "Tod in Venedig" (Death in Venice) inspired to Thomas Mann's novel, whose plot has slightly been changed to fit Neumeier's inspiration.
Here we have von Aschenbach, a choreagrapher at the top of fame, arrived at a turning point of his life. He is composing a new ballet about Friederich the Great, on Bach's music, and it is a work truly representative of his life: rational, clear, apollonian, but also cold, as it is Aschenbach's life indeed.
But he starts to have dreams and encounters with sensuous and sensual men, that awaken his perceptions and the awareness of his life's deficiencies. He goes to Venice, where the encounter with Tadzio - a young, beautiful, innocent but sensual boy - is like a conflagration in Aschenbach's life. He now discovers how deeply rooted is his dionysiac part. The conflict between apollonian and dyonisiac - between his well-ruled life and the huge passion for the lovely boy - cannot be resolved and he surrenders to the Death, that now strikes Venice with a cholera epidemy.
The conflict is well showed using the juxtaposed music from Bach and Wagner, that symbolise very well the apollonian and dionysiac sides. Even the dance styles change deeply, following the music, and this is one of the better aspects of this ballet.
I have found the plot intellectually interesting and humanly moving, and I also think that it is almost the best part of this ballet. But, sadly, I think that this ballet lacks of dance. A quite severe opinion, and maybe not everybody would agree.
Most part of the time of the ballet (over 2h) is a pantomime: you see the dancers moving on the stage, drinking, playing, etc., but true dance is really too little and, when you can see legs, and arms, and bodies moving like I would expect in a ballet, the choreography is muddled, bodies stumble, there is not the harmony that I found in other Neumeier's ballets (e.g. Sylvia, Kameliendame, Schwanensee...). I haven't found any thrill in this ballet.
Two exemples:
1. A dream/nightmare of Aschenbach. Music: Bach, Toccata in D Minor, rearranged as rock/punk (not so bad as you could imagine, I quite enjoyed the music). We have the dancers in a rock-like choreography, but they look still and rigid as puppets. I think what is a real rocker, what would have done Mick Jagger or The Kiss and... well... I missed them! Here we have just shadows and no real envolvement.
2. The death of Aschenbach. Music: das Liebetod by Tristan und Isolde. It is one of purest, most sensual, desperate, intense, wonderful piece of music ever written. Absolutely perfect choice! But here, as choreography on this superb music, we have just a run on the stage of Aschenbach, led by Tadzio, a final hug and Aschenbach gliding in death. If I compare this to the end of McMillan's Romeo&Juliet, I feel quite disappointed...
I do not know if this emotional lack could be fault of the dancers: I do not believe. Lloyd Riggins (Aschenbach) is absolutely perfect, a wonderful actor: his face and body convey both the psychological development of Aschenbach, I hardly could imagine somebody better.
Tadzio - Edvin Revazov - is also perfect as actor: teasing, but innocent, beautiful, young and with a strong presence on stage.
(One more word on Azzoni: she leads a minor role, but as always I find her presence refreshing, lively and graceful.)
As good both of the leading dancers could have been, I would have liked better to see them dancing more, instead of acting.
So: why give I 4 star, if I missed so badly the dancing part? Well, because the performance is never boring, the plot is good, the dancers are really good actors, and my mind was always puzzled, to understand the meaning of what on stage. Even though it was not the ballet I expected, it has been something that I enjoyed, even though not as I enjoyed the previous ballet form Neumeier.
A few more notes:
Camera work: closed on faces, too close in my opinion, but it is an express desire by Neumeier.
Scenes and costumes: simple, but really effective
Bonus: an additional 1-h long movie about back-stage work and with an interview to Neumeier.
(sorry for my english, I am not English, thank you for your understanding...)


Mozart: Don Giovanni
Mozart: Don Giovanni
Price: £13.75

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 4 July 2012
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This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
My first Don Giovanni is Giulini's and, I admit, it rests my benchmark forever, most of all because of the perfect Donna Elvira sung by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
But here too we have a lot of wonderful music.
First: the most perfect opera. I think Don Giovanni would be a pleasant hearing even though *I* were on the podium!!!
Second: a richly and well-balanced cast. Anna Tomowa-Sintow is a wonderful Donna Anna: she is passionate, precise, has a perfect timbre and colour for this role; really much better than Joan Sutherland (she is definitely not-Mozart-like in my opinion, and moreover her italian is awful!).
Teresa Zylis-Gara as Donna Elvira is a dark and deep dive, with a rich voice, but I think nobody could stand at the highness of Schwarzkopf...
Edith Mathis sings the better Zerlina I have heard: she sings freely, without affectation, but in an allusive and charming way (helped in this by the music conduction, very "soft"); in this way, she copes to make of Zerlina a real top-role, not just a "filler". Mathis is particularly communicative in this role, she loads meaning and nuance on every word, similarly to that Frederica von Stade makes with Cherubino.
The male roles are well performed and, particularly, I liked the rendition of Leporello. I was used to a more histrionic way, so Walter Berry gave me a new way of thinking to this role: differently from what written by another reviewer, I think Berry's performance quite dramatic and in its way serious, not at all comic.
Peter Schreier as Don Ottavio is maybe the part I like less, but this is due mainly to the fact that mozartian tenors (in my opinion) are always faible compared to bariton and bass; I really appreciated in this role only Jussi Bjoerling, so I think that poor Schreier does nothing wrong and it is only my taste that shadows his performance.
Sherril Milnes (Don Giovanni) is good, but not unforgettable, as I like better voices more rich and velvety; in this case, I liked better John Macurdy (il Commendatore). Even though neither of them is my ideal, their ensemble at the end of the 2nd act is really poignant, helped by the severe pace of the orchestra.
What I think really good of this performance are the ensemble pieces: terzetti, quartetti, quintetti. Lively, never obvious, they reveal a true harmony in the cast. Then honour to Karl Boehm, that managed to create a really deep balance in this performance, both with singers and orchestra.
About the music: I liked better the approach of Giulini, a little livelier, faster paced, but Boehm makes wonderful things with Wiener Philarmoniker. With him, Wiener sound a little less viennese and a little more german (I compare mainly the sounds that they attain with Von Karajan and Solti), but I think that great music can sustain very different interpretations and only improve in this way: listeners can thus discover something new and astounding.
About sound: I am not fond of the "perfect sound". I don't even hear rustles on a wonderful performance, but I find boring a clean sound on an interpretative zero. Though, this disc in my opinion is well beyond the technical level needed to enjoy the performance, given that you too listen music more with your mind and soul than your mere ears.
Particularly, I think that, being a live performance, the balance between orchestra and singer is really good and also the attendance makes almost no noise.
Drawing a line, this performance is really good and worth of being in every mozartian collection, to be listened and listened again.


Illusions Like Swan Lake - A Ballet By John Neumeier [DVD] [2001]
Illusions Like Swan Lake - A Ballet By John Neumeier [DVD] [2001]

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New but classic, 9 Jan 2012
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I am very sad to see that at the moment this interesting ballet is not available, as it is really worthy.
This ballet uses the Swan Lake music and part of the Petipa/Ivanov coreography (the White Swan part), although it develop the plot as the story of an alienated king, lover of illusions and dreams, that despises his real fiancée, but falls in love for Odette.
The story is much more interesting than the original one, in my opinion, and it can also refresh the listening of the used and abused classical music. For this reason the ballet is "new", but it offers a sample of classical dance, and it keeps also past of the most beautiful part of the original choreography (not the Black Swan... pity...)
Good the dancers: I liked mostly the freshness of princess Claire and the sober elegance and precision of the King; but I must confess that, when I have the opportunity of watching new choreographies, I found acceptable having a less-than-perfect dancer, as I am teased more by the concept of the new ballet than by its execution. In this case, the execution too is technically agreable and often emotionally moving.
Beautiful scenography: as we learn from Neumeier himself, it is drawn from Ludwig's own castle and was an important part of the choreographer's inspiration.
Unfortunately, the camera work is a bit to close: it offers often blurry cuts of bellies and torsos, I would have preferred larger cuts. It is because of this that I give "only" four stars.
The additional stuff is interesting; there is an interview of Neumeier and the biographies of the main dancers.
Hoping that will be soon available for the other customers...


Programming The Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos
Programming The Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos
by Seth Lloyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring and not very clear, 22 Aug 2007
I suppose that M. Wilkinson completely missed the point of the author about what is a quantum computer: under Lloyd's hypothesis and definition, the universe is really a computer (too, not only).
This is the only interesting point in a book quite boring, not clear and quite superficial.


Mayerling: The Royal Ballet (Kenneth Macmillan) [DVD]
Mayerling: The Royal Ballet (Kenneth Macmillan) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Derek Bailey

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complicated but incredibly poignant, 31 May 2006
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I have never seen a most complicated plot in a ballet, so it is sometimes difficult to follow. Maybe the title is misplacing, because it lets you think just to love story (following the movie). Now, after having seen it, I do think this is the story of the solitude and severing of a strange soul from his milieu, so "Mayerling" is not the emblem of a great love, but of the end of the tragic and lonely life of Rudolph. In this perspective, it is easiest to understand why all feminine characters are not central to the ballet.

In spite of this, the coreography is absolutely ravishing, most of all the pas de deux, and all artists are wonderful. I think that everybody used his/her most preminent qualities in order to achieve a better insight of the character.

A regret: Adam Cooper dances in this production, but it is difficult to see him (the whole ballet is often badly cutted). It's really a pity that such a dancer is hardly available on DVD (as far as I know, only the magnificent Swan Lake).


The Merry Widow - The Australian Ballet [1993] [DVD]
The Merry Widow - The Australian Ballet [1993] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Butler
Price: £19.17

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comsi-comsa!, 31 May 2006
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Not a great ballet, not great dancers. But Lehar's music is always a pleasure and the coreography is lively. I think this ballet is not a masterpiece, but it is valuable of being seen.


Evidentia [DVD] [1996]
Evidentia [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Sylvie Guillem
Price: £13.15

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring..., 31 May 2006
This review is from: Evidentia [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I agree with the previous review: great dancer, it would have been better more dance and less talk (not speaking of the cinematographic insert). Only the Ek's coreography is really worth, elsewhere I would have already sold it out!


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