MAYA - Dominique Delouche's Portrait of Maya Plisetskaya
VAI ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4489 TT: 84 min.
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GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16. SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22
Güslin Onay, pianist/Bilkent Symphony Orch/Emil Tabakov, cond. (Grieg); Avi Ostrowsky (Saint-Saëns)
VAI ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4480 TT: 56 min.
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BELLINI: Norma (Act I)
Monserrat Caballé (Norma); Margreta Elkins (Adalgisa); Robieto Merolla (Pollione)(; James Morris (Oroveso); RTVE Chorus and Orch/Enrique Garcia Asensio, cond.
Music of Handel, Vivaldi, Cherubini, Granados, Chapi, and Giménez
Montserrat Caballé, soprano; Miguel Zanetti, piano
VAI ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4465 TT: 81 min. + 59 min.
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VAI's DVD devoted to Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya is an important issue. This "Portrait" by Dominique Delouche was produced in 1999 and includes footage of Plisetskaya discussing her life and career, including many scenes filmed in Moscow. Her tragic childhood is defined (her father was executed, her mother deported), and there are many all-too-brief excerpts from several of her magnificent performances. Particularly intriguing are interviews with Maurice Béjart with whom she often collaborated. Admirers of this remarkable woman also should investigate Euroarts' DVD filmed in 2004 when she was 80, which includes a complete performance of Boléro (REVIEW). Both of these DVDs are essential for those interested in ballet.

Turkish pianist Güslin Onay (born in Istanbul in 1954) is a remarkable performer who, although relatively unknown to most collectors, has enjoyed a distinguished international career. Onay specializes in music of Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun who dedicated his piano concerto No. 2 to her. She recorded both of Saygun's piano concertos twice, most recently on cpo (REVIEW). Now thanks to VAI we have the opportunity to see her in standard repertory, Grieg's concerto from a concert in 2007, Saint-Saëns' concerto from a concert the following year.Onay is a stylish pianist, a pleasure to watch and her formidable technique is always present. Audio quality is excellent, video less-so, but always of sufficient quality to convey the splendid performances.

Videos made early during Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé's career are always welcome, and now, again thanks to VAI, we can watch her remarkable performance in the first act of Norma recorded in concert January 30, 1971 in Madrid's Teatro Real. We also have the opportunity to watch James Morris very early in his career, and Margreta Elkins at the peak of hers. Pollione is sung by Robleto Merolla who at the time was well known for winning several competitions and wisely several years later focused on teaching. The orchestra and chorus are sometimes insecure, but the show here is the soloists. Black and white video is adequate, audio sometimes slightly distorted. Admirers of Caballé must get her incredible performance of Norma recorded at the Orange Festival in July 1974 (REVIEW). Vai's new DVD also contains a recital by Caballé recorded in Madrid in 1979, again displaying her unique artistry. This is a color film, and has better audio than the Norma act recorded eight years earlier.

R.E.B. (February 2009)

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