Led by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, the Paris-based Magma have been, in their way, perhaps the ultimate progressive rock group; while other artists have achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim, Magma have typified the many ambitions and excesses of the genre that won them as many detractors as fans, even going so far as to invent their own lyrical and musical language in order to bring their unique vision to life…
Arthaus presents “Giselle”, a classical ballet, which, with all its splendour and grace, is generally regarded as the apotheosis of the Romantic ballet. The work premiered in the Salle de la rue Le Peletier at the Paris Opéra in 1841 and is considered the first major plot-based ballet to have survived to the modern day with its original choreography almost intact. In the course of the past century and a half “Giselle” has undergone only a few changes, e.g. by Marius Petipa, who revised the work for his 1887 production at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The performance recorded on this DVD is based on the St Petersburg version and was choreographed by Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov, two out-and-out Petipa specialists. The scenery is the work of Alexandre Benois from 1924; originally designed for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, it heralded the re-emergence on Western programmes of the long absent “Giselle” and to this day it remains the benchmark for traditionalist stagings of this ballet. The production was marked by an all-stars cast: Laëtitia Pujol dances the title role, combining her flawless technical skill with a fully developed sense of grace. Nicolas Le Riche, one of international ballet’s most respected stars, created her male counterpart, Albrecht, whose faithlessness drives her insane. Le Riche is famous all over the world for his elegant strength, the beauty of his expression and the musicality of his movements.
One hates to admit it, but at this point in his career, pianist Maurizio Pollini is no longer a Mozart player. Although a supreme virtuoso, a passionate intellectual, and a consummate artist, Pollini has grown too brilliant, too intense, and too calculating for Mozart. Pollini's tone is crystalline, his textures are transparent and his tempos are perfect in this breathtaking 2005 recording of the G major and C major piano concertos, but it all seems too cold and too objective. Although he is also directing the Wiener Philharmoniker from the piano, this doesn't seem to encumber Pollini's virtuosity in any way; indeed, he appears to enjoy the challenge, audibly coaxing more force from the musicians' playing.
It may be rash to claim that the French pianist Monique Haas (1909-1987) never made a bad recording, but you won't find one among her complete DG sessions. Dating from the late 1940s up to 1965, the recordings have been transferred from scratch, and they sound remarkably well for their respective vintages. The repertoire is diverse and unhackneyed, ranging from Mozart piano duets (with Heinz Schröter) and K. 449 and K. 488 concertos, rare Haydn gems (the E-flat Arietta with Variations and the Fantasia in C major), and the Stravinsky Capriccio, to Hindemith's Concert Music for piano, brass and harps (with the composer conducting), and a substantial sonata by Marcel Mihalovici (the pianist's husband) featuring violinist Max Rostal.