TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 5 in B flat
There are many videos of Tcaikovsk's magnificent ballet; some with Nureyev choreography have been mentioned on this site—the Vienna State Opera version with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and the Bolshoi Ballet with Maya Plitsetskaya and Nicolai Fadeyechev (REVIEW) The only advantage this new performance from the Vienna State Opera March 18, 2014, is increased video quality possible from new technology. Dancing throughout is excellent, and it is a pleasure to see Vladimir Shiskov, who starred in the recent Vienna Nutcracker (REVIEW), as Prince Siegfried. The orchestra sounds a bit tentative. It always is a pleasure to watch Swan Lake, but this new one doesn't match the other videos mentioned. It is rather far from the top on the preferred list.
For a fascinating new approach to Swan Lake, try this film production of Jean-Christiphe Maillot 's imaginative updating of the famous classic story. It is, of course, performed to Tchaikovsky's music, but with plot twists and new twists to the fable. With the assistance of famous writer Jean Rouaud, visual artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest and Phillipe Guillotel's striking costumes, the result is a brilliant concept perfectly danced by the remarkable cast. This film has deservedly been awarded many major prizes, and for good reason. Video is state-of-the art, audio is excellent, although hardly true "surround" as this recording was made many tears ago—however, orchestral sound is full and engineers have spread it around into rear speakers with considerable effect. Precision of the dangers rivals Cirque du Soleil. This is a spectacular visual and emotional production. Don't miss it!
Christian Thielemann is now approaching the half-way mark in is traversal of Bruckner's symphonies. This site favorably mentioned his recordings of symphonies 4 and 7 with the Munich Philharmonic (REVIEW), and was less enthusiastic about his Symphony No. 8 with the Dresden State Orchestra (REVIEW). Chielemann now is Principal Conductor of the Dresden orchestra with a contrast through 2019. Obviously it is a winning combination. This magnificent performance of Symphony No. 5 is perfectly paced, detailed and played with virtuosity, particularly the brass. The finael builds to a huge thrilling climax, and as the recorded sound is uncommonly rich, the effect is impressive indeed. . Thielemann conducts the Bruckner symphonies without a score and does so with total authority. It's interesting that at the conclusion, Thielemann keeps his arms raised for a considerable time so there is no applause until he permits it. Video is brilliant with the camera always in the right spot. This is essential for those who love Bruckner's music.
R.E.B. (December 2014)