Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Arthur Lintgen
Fanfare, November 2009

ADAM, A.: Giselle (Royal Ballet, 2006) (NTSC) OA0993D
ADAM, A.: Giselle (Royal Ballet, 2006) (Blu-ray, NTSC) OABD7030D

The long tradition of prima ballerinas playing Giselle began with Carlotta Grisi at that 1841 Paris premiere and more recently included Carla Fracci and Svetlana Zakharova, among others. Alina Cojocaru now not only joins, but may even surpass that illustrious group. She is physically just about perfect for Giselle: delicate, frail, and elegant, with a remarkably expressive face and dancing that is so fluid and effortless as to be almost magical. The chemistry between Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg (Count Albrecht) is palpable, and he nearly matches her step for step. Marianela Nuñez is icy and commanding in the critical role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis. © 2009 Fanfare Read complete review

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, September 2009

As a ballet, evidently Giselle was a turning point in ballet history in many respects and well covered in the fine liner notes. The innovations helped change the direction of romantic ballets to this day. The underlying story of a beautiful dancer dying the day before her wedding, is transformed into dancing women leading men to their death. Costume change is, to my mind, extreme during the ballet and often copied from this early, a century and a half ago, premiere. Getting a bit more used to my rather modest home theater system, this outstanding Blue-ray release poured forth outstanding audio quality. Seemingly at least full range and great dynamic extremes at times with solid bass range and great reproduction of the brass, this is probably the best sounding Blue-ray release featuring audio plus video that I’ve heard so far! Obviously highly recommended.

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, June 2009

This is considered the quintessential Romantic-period ballet, and the dancer playing the title role has to really be on her toes, not just in the technical side of the often difficult choreography, but also in communicating the wide emotional range demanded in the role.  Alina Cojocaru is felt by some ballet fans to be the prime Giselle on the ballet stage today.  Following her very first public performance in this role, she was made principal dancer in the Royal Ballet.

Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis of the ballet, so pardon me for skipping that here. It’s a mix of the human and supernatural worlds.  I thought it interesting that in the original story Giselle commits suicide with the prince’s sword right away upon learning she has been jilted. But due to moral and religious objections, in the version danced everywhere now she first has a mad scene due to the shock to her system and then stabs herself.  In typical operatic/ballet style the stabbing is very unrealistic and she goes on dancing up a storm for some time while everyone stands around watching, before she finally succumbs.

The costumes and sets are just right, especially the contrasts between the peasants’ clothes and the finery of the royal hunting party who pass thru the village. The mimed plot developments seem appropriate if you know the story or view the synopsis in the extras first, but I fail to understand how Giselle’s mother could possibly be telling the whole legend of the ghosts of jilted girls (the Willis) dancing in the forest at night just from her few gestures. The main idea behind the tale is I suppose the triumph of love over death, because Giselle forgives the prince his flirtation with her when he was engaged to a noble lady.  It was new to me in having seen this ballet a couple times that at the end, due to her love in protecting the prince from being danced to death by the Willis, as all men have been (including—unfairly—her steadfast peasant admirer), she does not become a Willis herself but has eternal peace so to speak. I can appreciate the challenge of communicating such details when all you have to work with is a dancer going behind the set and spotlight to turn off. While both of the lead dancers are superb, and Johan Kobberg as the prince does some amazing leaps, he doesn’t match the perfect Giselleness of Cojocaru.  Also, I found him distracting since he looks like (in the face) a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Opera and ballet such as this are perfect for Blu-ray since for lengthy periods there is not that much action going on and one’s eyes tend to wander about the screen.  All the details are there, even in darker areas, and the details on the costumes come thru beautifully. And note that the surround track is neither lossless DTS nor Dolby but uncompressed 5.1 PCM for the very highest fidelity.  Of course with 50GB of space available, there’s no need to use any sort of audio codec, even lossless. By the way, the Royal Ballet Orchestra’s playing of the score is first-rate, in no way compromised, and would stand up well against any of the CD-only recordings such as Antal Dorati’s classic on Mercury—especially since there hasn’t been a SACD version of the score.

Nate Goss
Fulvue Drive-in, June 2009

The production was recorded in 2006, runs nearly 2 hours in length and is the atypical Romantic ballet the involves some technically challenging moments that are then graced by Alina Cojocaru in the title role, along with her partner Johan Kobborg as Count Albrecht. Here we have a love story that unfolds between two worlds and the power that love can have even over death and any obstacle, the production design and stirring transitions help captivate the audience even on this Blu-ray experience the staging becomes so captivating that you almost forget that you are watching a ballet and are locked into the storyline just as if the dance expressions were filled with words.

Here we have another fine transfer presented in 1080i, and framed at 1.78 X 1 for this High Definition release, which looks sharp and refined, but not quite as much as the other Blu-ray titles in this review. We can only assume that some of this deals with slightly older HD equipment and perhaps a less involved production budget in general, but even despite that the image does boast some great detail and certainly a more life-like image than standard definition DVD could ever offer. Likewise the audio options are delivered here in two formats: PCM 2.0 and PCM 5.0, there weren’t drastic differences when comparing either mix, certainly the spatial-ness of the 5.0 mix is a bit more obvious with more speakers involved, the 2.0 is strong enough that it warrants a listen, fans of surround sound will enjoy having the 5.0 mix just the same.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group