Richard Strauss - Josephs Legende (2007) [DVD9 NTSC]
Actors: Judith Jamison, Kevin Haigen, Franz Musil, Heinrich Hollreiser, Franz Wilhelm
Directors: John Neumeier
Format: AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD, Subtitled, NTSC
Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
DVD Release Date: July 10, 2007
Run Time: 65 minutes
.: Tracklist :
Josephs Legende, Opus 63, is an ìopera without wordsî or ìballet-dramaî composed by Richard Strauss (1864-1949) with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929). The story attempts to reconstruct a particular biblical passage that was given prominence in the Old Testament (Genesis 37-50) centered around the first Josephís, parts of the so-called Egyptian episode and the incident in Potipharís house (Genesis 37: 36 and 39: 1-23). Although in the biblical story there are no great details about such episode they can be easily imagined, as Strauss and Hofmannsthal did in fact; please refer to Genesis 39: 11-19 for more specifics.
This ballet was premiered at Parisí OpÈra to great acclaim in May 14, 1914 less than three months before the outset of War World One. As far as the current (1977) performanceís choreography it was newly created by John Neumeier (b. 1942) and includes a mixture of 19th Century classical pantomimic ballet, 20th Century modern abstract style, and a form of ìprimitiveî ritualistic dance that invents its own steps, suggestive of, but not identical with folk dancing. A specific sample of this stylistic congruence can be observed in the exquisite Pas de deux at the beginning of Track No. 7 between The Angel and Joseph including at 3:25 a classic demonstration of Vaslav Nijinskyís 10 beats steps as performed by the lead dancer Kevin Haigen in the roll of Joseph ñ indeed a great accomplishment.
The dancers are totally subordinated to the music and they seem to be extra members of the orchestra trying to elucidate a story with their gestures, dance movements and facial expressions. The important question here is as follows: do we find in this performance all the expected and necessary exact correspondence between the music, the action and the pantomimic gestures on the stage? My answer is a clear yes. We can observe this in Track No. 4 with the Premier etoile Judith Jamison (in the best of Alvin Aileyís tradition) mixing in the above mentioned three ballet styles while observing exemplary precision and correspondence between the music and the choreography. In the final analysis, pictorial characterization is superlative even in those passages where the dance becomes rather abstract; however, meaning is always clear and easy to comprehend.
Music is valuable and significant, and never frivolous, as well as atonal, and rabidly chromatic which clearly shows Straussís capacity for melodic creation. The music will also remind us of Straussí admiration for Richard Wagner and more specifically for his opera Tristan und Isolde. The music is highly symbolic in nature and driven mostly by melodic motifs with abundant lavish harmonies, which at times becomes highly bombastic, as in the beginning. That is, music which is heralded by trumpets, trombones, drums, tubas and a plethora of percussion ñ a Straussí trademark. Incidentally, the music from this ballet has been heard and recorded a few times as a rather short symphonic suite titled Symphonic Fragment. In the final analysis, Straussí music is superlative and completely descriptive but in a radically and different way than Stravinskyís ñ both were contemporaries and composing for some of the same dancers and choreographers.
As far as the cinematography is concerned the picture is somewhat grainy and fuzzy at times with very little color and detail, but fits with the intended message. The sound in this DVD was synthesized from an original ANSI II format, which was DGGís way with sound at that time, into DTS 5.1 surround sound. The sound is really present in all 6 channels and the instrumental balance is well conceived. A notable passage which shows the care given by DGG to the sound production can be found in Track 8 beginning at 1:30 with the massed string choir of the Vienna Philharmonic undertaking a moving adagio (or andante) heard to its full dynamic glory. It is very easy to tell what is front and rear, left and right and so on, however, I do not perceive any substantial spatial acoustics ñ just flat instrumental presence.
In conclusion, the music for this ballet is beautifully scored and on a par with the Strauss we all know and admire. The DVD is purely about ballet music and as pure ballet is exquisitely danced to an inventive and ever moving choreography, a worthy demonstration that ballet as an artistic endeavor is not defunct. I think of this as a great DVD for ballet, classical music and high definition sound lovers ñ a production of the highest quality and integrity.
PLEASE GIVE AT LEAST WHAT YOU HAVE TAKEN
STAY IN SEED PLEASE
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