BALANCHINE - NEW YORK CITY BALLET IN MONTREAL, VOL. I
Serenade (music by Tchaikovsky).Orpheus (music by Stravinsky)
VIDEO ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4571 TT: 59 min.
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BALANCHINE - NEW YORK CITY BALLET IN MONTREAL, VOL. II
Concerto Barocco (music by Bach). Pas de deux (music by Glazununov). Agon (music by Stravinsky) Grand pas de deux from The Nutcracker (music by Tchaikovsky)
VIDEO ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4572 TT: 69 min.
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TCHAIKOVSKY: The Sleeping Beauty
Larrisa Lezhnina (Princess Aurora). Farukh Ruzimatov (Prince Désire). Yulia Makhalina (Lilac Fairy). Vadim Guliayev (Cruel Fairy Carabosse). Gennady Babanin (The King). Nina Mikhailova (The Queen). The Kirov Ballet/Viktor Fedotov, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD TT: 129 min.
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Balletomanes will welcome these twin DVDs of the work of legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Apparently for whatever reason the New York City Ballet went to the television studios of the Canadian Radio in Montreal for a quarter of a century beginning in 1954, where a number of their performances were filmed and telecast.Thes are TV studio performances with no audience. Sets and scenery are not provided, just an empty stage with limited props. Here we have what presumably are the first two issues, Volume I telecast Nov. 5, 1957 (Serenade) and March 10, 1960 (Orpheus); Volume II telecast Jan. 19, 1956 (Concerto Barocco), Nov. 5, 1957 (Pas de deux), March 10, 1960 (Agon), and Grand pas de deux from Nutcracker). Major stars of the New York City Ballet participate including Maria Tallchief, Diana Adams, Violette Verdy, Tanaquil Le Clercq, Jacques d'Amboise, Andre Eglevsky, Roy Tobias, and Nicholas Magallanes. A definite plus is an interview with Balanchine in which he discusses his conversations with Stravinsky about music for Agon. Visually these DVDs are disappointing, filmed in black and white with rudimentary camera work, and mono sound, The orchestra is small and scrappy, although conductors include Robert Irving. Credits mention that one of the violin soloists in Concerto Barocco is Henryk Szeryng, at the beginning of his remarkable international career during which he made numerous recordings of major works in the repertory, always with major orchestras and conductors. Doubtless there will be future issues in this important series. VAI could have made them more attractive for collectors had they programmed volumes I and II on a single disk. But this should not deter those who wish to experience the work of George Blanchine and hear him discussing his work.

Russian grand ballet can be experienced on this issue of the Kirov ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty filmed in Palace des Arts in Montréal on an unspecified date in 1989. Original choreography by Marius Pepita has been revised by Konstantin Sergeyev. Oleg Vinogradov was artistic director and chief choreographer, the gorgeous sets by Simon Virsaladze. Leading artists of the time are featured and all are in top form. Brilliant photography and fine stereo sound add to attractiveness of this major release.

R.E.B. (April 2014)

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