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(Oct 11, 2011)
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By way of background, I had the good luck to have seen the Mariinsky / Kirov perform Jewels in California in 2003. Jewels had been a bit hard to catch in that period unless you lived in NYC, and no complete video recording existed at the time. Hence I was ecsatic about the ballet, in which I saw a number of the same artists who perform in this new dvd (notably Ms Lopatkina and Mr Fadeyev).
Every major ballet company has its unique style, which is a wonderful thing. But the consequence is that when a highly stylized group of dancers try to perform the work of a choreographer alien to their core repertoire, that style will show through. And so it did in this dvd. At times I had to ask myself, "Who re-choreographed this work?"
Emeralds was danced in a workman-like fashion, but left me cold. Ever since Violette Verdy threw in the towel as a repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, I don't think any company has really nailed this act. Even the NYCB.
Rubies had an unexpected smoothness and flow where sharpness and discontinuity are called for. The proverbial ear-whacking kicks were there in abundance, as another reviewer has noted, but the elements of thrill, spontaneity and edginess were lacking.
Diamonds, oddly enough, was problematic as well. The tempo of the first section was way too fast (granted, the Tchaikovsky score can be a bit dirge-like), and the ensemble - albeit in the astounding unison for which the Mariinsky is famous - seemed rushed to keep up. Now as to Lopatkina in the pas de deux, which I think is one of the master's masterpieces: perhaps she thought she was dancing Odette in Swan Lake, but her little affectations (e.g.Read more ›
I have a soft spot for Emeralds. Fauré's music is as unlikely a choice as one can find for ballet, yet, is there music more haunting, more elegant, of a deeper green? George Balanchine was a superb musician and he chose his scores very carefully. He would say that if you are bored with the ballet, "with my ballets I will give you music so you can close your eyes and just listen to it." With either the proceeds from a poker game (or maybe for doing some dances for a Broadway show) he commissioned from Hindemith a piece for piano and orchestra, requiring only that the piano part be easy enough for him to play. Thus came to be "The Four Temperaments" which he not only could play but would become one of his early NYCB masterpieces, and today danced world-wide. So Fauré, and the fine choices Balanchine made within the Fauré canon. Balanchine had great affinity and affection for France and lived there for many years. Maybe Violette Verdy inspired it the choice of Fauré. I guess emeralds themselves did too, and some persuasion from Nathan Milstein and Claude Arpels. The ballet is very subtle, the steps never blazing, yet there are depths of emotion running through it that sear without shouting. Nothing like it happens again until the great "Diamonds" pas-de-deux. The Paris Opera Ballet excels in Emeralds.Read more ›
So it is that the Mariinsky recording of their Jewels stands in striking relief to the POB's and the comparisons to the former are not always favorable.
First there's the matter of the zany, wacky, fish-eye camera work that is a tremendous distraction and in no way flatters any of the dancers. Second, the Karinska tutus in Diamonds are a blight on any audience, and remain unassailable proof that since its founding, no one in NYCB's wardrobe department has ever figured out how to cut a tutu. There was certainly no reason for the Mariinsky to have carried them over wholesale. On this score, the glistening Christian Lacroix tutus in POB's Diamonds win by a mile.
I had always loved Zhanna Ayupova's dancing so I was a little disappointed that her Violette Verdy solo came off a little flat, highlighting the inflexible and turgid pointe work that seems to be the hallmark of the Mariinski and the Bolshoi. And surprisingly, Ayupova also missed the ravishing arms and ecstatic , swooning back ends on the diagonal that Laetitia Pujols brought to the solo.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ballet is happening world wide. Good to be able to see in is such a good quality. Especially we can't be there live.Published on August 6, 2013 by Julia Walsh
There are now two versions of this ballet to choose from on Blu-ray. This one recorded in 2006 although not released until 2011 and the one by the Paris Opera ballet and recorded... Read morePublished on July 29, 2012 by I. Giles
Regionalism in dance is certainly alive and well. For the past several weeks I've been playing a section of Jewels from the Paris Opera Ballet and then the same from this Marinsky... Read morePublished on April 13, 2012 by Dr. John W. Rippon
This is a wonderful DVD of Jewels. Emeralds and Diamonds are a joy to watch. If you love Mariinsky dancers you will most likely enjoy this very much.Published on January 30, 2012 by L. Novikova
Russians just don't seem to get Balanchine; the camera man just don't seem to get ballet altogether. Read morePublished on October 20, 2011 by Nicole
Hate the sets: For me "the sets" include the curtains (are they real? fake?) of the wings. For me these "curtains" look terrible, and are roughly the color of vomit. Read morePublished on October 17, 2011 by William D. Larson
What an absolute joy! The dancers' beautiful glittering costumes fill the screen with red, green and white sparkling jewels. Read morePublished on October 14, 2011 by Classicalforever
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