Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Igor Strawinsky Petrouchka/Johannes Brahms - Liebeslieder-Walzer Op 52|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
On this DVD, the music of Pétrouchka is illustrated, not as it usually is by ballet dancers, but by the musicians and the music itself. The movements of the performers, their piano and drum-playing hands, the hammers strik... more »
Excellent Performances; Distracting Visuals
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The people who make videos of classical music performances have a problem on their hands. They feel they must make the visual aspects of the VHS or DVD interesting, but they must not distract from the performance of the music itself. One way of accomplishing this is to do a fairly straightforward visual record from a minimum of viewpoints, and only what can be done by several cameras during the actual live performance. Orchestral videos by such producers as Brian Large feature this style, one that I prefer. In this DVD producer Gyula Rácz uses a much different approach, particularly in 'Petrouchka.' He takes techniques from, I suppose, pop music videos (I have to admit I haven't chosen to watch very many of those) in that he has a hyperactive camera with frequent intercutting, superimpositions and electronic manipulation of images, computer generated patterns that react to the pulse of the music (rather like one can see in some skins of Windows Media Player) sometimes on their own and sometimes superimposed over images of the musicians, and so on. This DVD has two works: Stravinsky's 'Petrouchka' and Brahms's Op. 52 'Liebeslieder Waltzes.' They are treated very differently visually. In the former there is a good deal of reliance on odd camera angles, extreme closeups, the computer-generated patterns, quick intercutting. In the Brahms the style is rather more sober, but it cuts away to fine art reproductions that may (or may not) illustrate the texts of the 18 songs, and includes what I can only call amateur-looking outdoor candid video shots of various of the chorus members either singing or simply posing or walking through the countryside (and who, I must say, look uncomfortable as 'actors' and don't particularly gain from this approach), and some straight shots of the chorus and pianists in the Historischer Napoleon Saal in Regensburg, where the musical performance took place.
So much for the visual aspects of this DVD. As you can tell, I was not won over by either of Rácz's approaches. However, he also appears in the 'Petrouchka' part of the DVD as one of the two expert percussionists, and indeed he is credited with this really quite effective arrangement for duo pianists and two percussionists. (Indeed, I believe this same group of four musicians have recorded the Bartók 'Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion,' coupled with 'Petrouchka,' on the Ars Musici label.) The 'Petrouchka' performance itself is idiomatic, crisp, rhythmic and alert. I quite enjoyed it. And it was nice to have the entire ballet arranged for piano, unlike Stravinsky's own arrangement for solo piano which includes only three of the ballet's movements. The Klavierduo Stenzl, brothers Hans-Peter and Volker Stenzl, are technically superb and completely in tune with each other.
The performance of the 'Liebeslieder Waltzes' features the New Chamber Choir of Regensburg, a group of young singers drawn from students at that city's Academy of the Catholic Church Music and Music Education. They are fresh-voiced and have the kind of youthful enthusiasm that these works require. If the singers lack the last bit of finesse, these songs don't suffer particularly from that; indeed, Brahms himself indicated they were to be used as 'Hausmusik.' They are, of course, accompanied by our two pianists, this time as a piano four-hands duet.
I have no complaints about the musical aspects of this DVD. I did grow tired of the visual approach in 'Petrouchka.' It is clear that this was not a single live performance caught on tape; one can even see one of the Stenzls clean-shaven and then a few seconds later really needing a shave. And I was, frankly, a little embarrassed (as I suspect the singers were) by the candid outdoor shots in the Brahms.
Subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish, Japanese
PCM Stereo, DTS
Strawinsky butchered by two pianos and Brahms by a choir
Brigitte Koenig | Springfield, MO USA | 02/22/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Strawinsky's beautiful and poignant ballet score has been altered here to be played by two pianists whose unremarkable countenances appear on screen between equally unremarkable computer graphics supposed to fit the music.
None of this does justice to the composer.
The Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes are sung competently enough by a school choir, the static shots of the kids on two galleries, interspersed with very pretty nature images, but . . .
The entire DVD is very disappointing. I would not have bought it if more information about the performance had been provided."