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Reves D'Un Marco Polo - Claude Vivier, Asko Ensemble

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Many consider Claude Vivier (1948-83) the greatest composer Canada has yet produced. György Ligeti once called him the finest French composer of his generation. A pupil under Gilles Tremblay and Karlheinz Stockhausen, he soon created his own dazzling vocal and orchestral language, profoundly marked by his travels to the Far East. The interweaving of his personal and professional life, of the real and the imaginary, reveals a compelling global awareness, deep human compassion and a universal quest for ultimate enlightenment. Vivier himself pursued this journey of discovery, until his tragic murder in Paris at the age of thirty-four.

The two parts of Rêves d un Marco Polo are like shadow and light, forming a dreamlike ritualistic experience and encompassing stage productions of his finest compositions. Pierre Audi's superb and moving staging is complemented by refined, passionate musical direction from Reinbert de Leeuw, leading the soloists, the Asko Ensemble and the Schönberg Ensemble to great heights. Also included is a spellbinding and insightful documentary on the life and work of Claude Vivier.

Sung in various languages with subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

Susan Narucki
Lani Poulson
Claron McFadden
Kathryn Harries
Karl Daymond
Johan Leysen
Asko Ensemble
Schönberg Ensemble
Musical Director Reinbert de Leeuw
Stage Director Pierre Audi


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Susan Narucki, Karl Daymond
  • Directors: Pierre Audi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, German
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kultur
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 267 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001FZQOOA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,983 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 6, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The music that the French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier wrote in the years preceding his untimely death in 1983 is out of this world: eschewing polyphony, he worked with endless single melodies, wrapped in dazzling microtonal inflections that he called "les couleurs". Informed by his studies of both Western classical music and traditions from Asia, the music is a fresh synthesis where East meets West and is then channeled through Vivier's own modernist genius.

Vivier's work fell into obscurity, and it wasn't until the mid 1990s that he was rediscovered. The Amsterdam-based Schoenberg-Asko Ensemble, their conductor Reinbert de Leeuw and the soprano Susan Narucki took up this music and recorded some of it on a must-hear Philips disc. Then, in 2004, de Leeuw collaborated with director Pierre Audi in the Netherlands Opera stagings on this 2-disc set: Vivier's opera "Kopernikus" and a later array of pieces, some of which Vivier linked to the theme of Marco Polo.

For those entirely new to Vivier, Disc 1 of this set includes a documentary on his life and work made in 1996 as part of de Leeuw's "Toonmeesters" series for Dutch television, and this is a good place to start. It opens with the night of his death: Vivier, then living in Paris, had picked up a male prostitute in a bar, but the young man stabbed him to death and ran off with the paltry sum Viver had in his pocket. On the table was the still incomplete score of what would be Vivier's last piece, "Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele?" (Do You Believe in the Immortality of the Soul?).
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... would be an apt description of the music of Claude Vivier (1948-1983) whether you love it or hate it. It would depend, I suppose, on your attitude toward be harrowed. Claude Vivier was not in the least concerned with amusing you, either as a solitary listener or as an audience. His larger theatrical works - Kopernikus and Marco Polo - are explicitly intended as "rituals" rather than entertainments. The stagings of those two works, recorded live at the Gasholder Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, are "realizations" of Vivier's rituals by conductor Reinbert de Leeuw and stage director Pierre Audi. Performed in bizarre costumes and masks amid towering industrial scaffolds, they are not for the sybarites of the public. The sounds and the scenes are grim, even ugly at times, with very little that suggests traditional musical rhyme or reason. Much of the singing is in an imaginary language, un-subtitled obviously, and the singers employ extreme techniques - chanting through tubes, patting their mouths like Iroquois war-whoops - mixed with 'Sprachstimme' and poetic recitation. The texts in French and German are, thank you!, subtitled. Most of them are Vivier's own words, but there are quotations of Friedrich Hölderlin and Martin Luther King. The characters in Kopernikus include Lewis Carroll, Merlin, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart and the Queen of the Night, Copernicus and Copernicus's mother; you'll need to be quick with allusions, however, to identify them.Read more ›
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If you already know about Claude Vivier then you'll know why you want this disc. If you don't know his music and are interested in a fine presentation, buy this one. I'm a Vivier fan, it's obvious that this production was a great labor of love from the participants. Yes, there are other recordings of the works, some maybe "better", but for a comprehensive overview of his important works, this is the set.
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