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Fine dance and recording quality from top quality Bolshoi production,
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This review is from: Les Flammes De Paris (Osipova/Savin/Vasiliev/Bolshoi Ballet) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
This issue continues the recent series of new Bolshoi Ballet recordings now available in high definition and Blu-ray. This follows a gap of a few years of refurbishment and where recordings have not been made. Suffice it to say that the Bolshoi Ballet has returned on very top form with interesting new productions as well as items of more traditional fare.
The current issue is set at the time of the French Revolution and is essentially a story of love formed on either side of the political divide and of human sacrifice in the name of love.
There can be no doubt about the mastery of the dancing in this production which is a technical 'tour de force'. The quality of the setting is also effective and makes good use of the large expanses of stage to create spectacle and a strong sense of speed. I personally find the music serviceable rather than of great note - not in the class of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky or Prokofiev for example to name but three of Russian lineage. It is for these musical considerations rather than those of dance that I have withheld the fifth star. Clearly ballet has to be seen as a whole art form bringing together an amalgamation of dance, music and staging to create a total experience and a reviewer must therefore consider all of these factors when deciding upon a fair grading and this I have attempted to do.
Nevertheless, and regardless of the above, it is likely that this issue will be of particular interest to those who are interested in the extraordinarily athletic abilities of the Russian superstar dancer, Ivan Vasiliev. Allegedly he is known to almost fly and indeed he does seem to defy gravity. There is little to add except that he fully lives up to his reputation and will not disappoint. The other three star dancers, Natalia Osipova as Jeanne, Denis Savin as Jerome and Nina Kaptsova are all fine dancers in their own right and the four stars make an impressive team. The corps de ballet are all that one would expect from the revitalised Bolshoi and the supporting solo roles are also good. This is a very impressively danced ballet which is presented with excellent costumes and sets in the finest of Russian traditions.
There is an interesting 21 minute bonus featuring interviews, rehearsal sequences and some historical information presented by the choreographer, Ratmansky and the two main dancers, Vasiliev and Osipova. This has subtitles to help with the rehearsal sequences and the dancers however Ratmansky speaks fluent English during his interview extracts.
The Blu-ray recording is very successful and delivers crisp and detailed imaging without motion blur even at times of fast action. There is a fine DTS surround sound option supplied as well as stereo. The extra bonus is in the form of 21 minutes of interviews and rehearsal extracts featuring the choreographer Ratmansky and the fine two leading dancers, Osipova and Vasiliev.
So in my opinion this earns a clear 5 stars for the dancing, much of which is spectacular, coupled with a fine production which is recorded well and generous bonus. My doubts about the long-term quality of the music is the reason for the reduced level to 4 stars. This is a personal response however and those with more dance-based priorities may well prefer a higher overall grade than me.