3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Arguably definitive performance but with compromised sound in the bass,
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This review is from: Adam: Giselle [Blu-Ray]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This is a very fine performance of Giselle. I prefer it marginally to the more recent Bolshoi version and for me this remains my favourite performance.
Cojocaru's dancing in a role that seems to have been conceived for her, portrays the heroine as the lovable but fatally naïve country girl that she is and as her mother (excellent portrayal by Sandra Conley) so clearly understands. This fragility carries over convincingly to the second act where Nunez, as leader of the Willis in this act is not as cold-bloodied as some. As a result the element of redemption through love is relatively unimpeded here.
The two competing men here are well up to the task required of them although I always personally feel that the morally justified Hilarion is appallingly sacrificed so that the real villain, Albrecht, can escape proper justice. Nevertheless Hilarion as portrayed by Martin Harvey and Albrecht as portrayed by Johan Kobborg do everything that can be done to bring their roles to life on the stage.
The corps de ballet are on fine form with involving portrayals of the various crowd scenes in the first act and as the Willis in the second act. The Willis are as ethereally effective in this performance as usual although it must be admitted that those in an earlier Kirov performance were able to move as if on wheels. Astonishing!
The imaging is crisp and without movement blur. The colour range is well balanced. The sound is presented in stereo and surround 5.0 and this leads me to the reservations in the following paragraph. These may simply be the result of the recording not having a designated 5.1 sub-woofer channel to specifically take care of the bass frequencies.
The problem for me concerns the sound quality heard in surround mode on particularly wide-ranging equipment. This shows the orchestra to be working in the dry acoustic that you would expect in a packed theatre which can be adjusted to in all respects except one. That is the booming and undefined sound of the bass drum. This becomes oppressive and totally out of balance with the rest of the soundstage and is at odds with the delicate nature of the ballet. This is not a problem of the musical scoring but rather that of poor recording. This may not be an issue with less wide ranging reproduction where the bass frequencies are carried only by the main left and right speakers which often have less extended bass. Maybe a case of less giving more in terms of satisfaction!
In summary therefore I feel that five stars is richly deserved for the ballet but only three for the sound quality as revealed on my admittedly somewhat extreme equipment. However I am also aware that this may not be audibly significant with most replay equipment so perhaps only a minor adjustment of rating probably needs to be made. An overall adjustment to 4 stars would therefore seem to be fair to accommodate ballet enthusiasts who are also keen on h-fi.