Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Elvis Costello the Brodsky Quartet The Juliet Letters|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Elvis Costello joins forces with the classical Brodsky Quartet in this suite of songs inspired by a literature professor who answered letters written to Shakespeare's Juliet. Track Listings: Deliver Us For Other Eyes Wh... more »
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Very creative and eloquent. It should be on DVD!!
Danny M. Hobbs | Tigard, OR United States | 03/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unlikely as it sounds, this video (and the CD, which includes more music) presents a song cycle written and performed by the Brodsky String Quartet and the rock singer Elvis Costello. This concept album is based (so the performers say) on a newspaper story from Italy. Occasionally, it seems, someone will send in a letter to Shakespeare's Juliet, not realizing she's a fictional character. The story is that for several years, a university professor in the area took it upon himself to answer these letters publicly, never revealing Juliet's fictional nature.
Inspired by this story, Costello and the Brodsky quartet wrote a series of letters of various types (suicide note, "been out of touch", letter from a soldier, mail order offer, legal notice ...) and set these to music for voice and string quartet. This is the kind of thing that shouldn't work at all, but it does, at least for me. First, the dry-sounding letters are witty and somewhat exaggerated, which keeps the lyrics interesting, and Costello's scratchy, very non-classical voice works well for these numbers. There's also a good range of letters, some of them quite eloquent, although the overall tone is a bit on the sombre side (reinforced in the video by a minimal autumn-themed set). But my favorite is "I almost had a weakness", an old woman's response to a fawning, ingratiating letter from her nephew hoping for a cut of her fortune when she dies; she begins "Thank you for the flowers. I threw them on the fire!" What a hoot!
My only disappointments with the video are (1) as I said, the program is rather overbalanced toward nostalgia and sadness (as is the CD), and (2) the video omits some of the music on the CD. Oh, well. This has to be one of the riskiest, most creative projects either Costello or the Brodsky have done. I highly recommend both the video and the CD.
By the way, Wea Corp, PLEASE release this on DVD!!
Brilliant album, frustrating DVD
Jeffrey Castel De Oro | Upland, CA USA | 09/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When this album first came out in 1993 I remember thinking "gosh this isn't something I'm going to return to very often." Now 15 years later I can say it's emerged as one of my favorite Elvis Costello albums though not typical for his material, except perhaps for the biting lyrics. This DVD however is quite frustrating. It opens with Elvis addressing a live audience and one assumes it will be a presentation of a live concert, however most all of the music here is mimed to the recordings on a set giving the presentation a very stagy and artificial feel. It works ok as a documentary and given that it's worth watching but there's really no "performance" here one can't simply listen to on the recording."
Great program, mediocre quality...
Todd A. Gillette | Kansas City | 08/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was so excited to discover the long-overdue DVD version of this wonderful program. The Juliet Letters
remains one of my all time favorite recordings, but I was always disappointed that the companion documentary
only merited the original VHS treatment for so many years. I had recorded my own copy from a PBS broadcast
nearly fifteen years ago, but the demise of my final VCR several years ago rendered the tape a mere dust collector. This DVD release is bittersweet: the program is still wonderfully entertaining and informative, but the quality of the transfer pretty much compares to the old VHS tape (grainy and flat) with audio that pales in comparison to the original CD tracks. But for the few who fully appreciate this widely under-appreciated collection of songs, this nice mix of live performances, convincing "lip-and-string-sync" performances, and interviews with the musicians is an essential study of this unique musical creation. Encore!"