Ashton Celebration

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Also available on Blu-ray La Valse Hikaru Kobayashi Ryoichi Hirano Samantha Raine Bennet Gartside Helen Crawford Brian Maloney Music: Maurice Ravel: La Valse Meditation from...
Also available on Blu-ray

La Valse

Hikaru Kobayashi
Ryoichi Hirano
Samantha Raine
Bennet Gartside
Helen Crawford
Brian Maloney

Maurice Ravel: La Valse

Meditation from Thaïs

Leanne Benjamin
Valeri Hristov

Jules Massenet: Thaïs, Act II: Meditation

Voices of Spring

Yuhui Choe
Alexander Campbell

Johann Strauss: Fruhlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), Op. 410

Monotones I and II

Emma Maguire
Akane Takada
Dawid Trzensimiech
Marianela Nuñez
Federico Bonelli
Edward Watson

Erik Satie: Gnoissienes and Gymnopedies

Marguerite and Armand

Tamara Rojo
Christopher Saunders
Sergei Polunin
Gary Avis

Music: Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B Minor, S178/R21

The Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Emmanuel Plasson, conductor

Frederick Ashton, choreographer

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, February 2013

- Introduction to Voices of Spring, Meditation, Monotones and The Ashton Foundation


Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English
Running time: 97 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

R E V I E W: 3744390.zz6_Introduction_Frederick_Ashton.html
ASHTON CELEBRATION & Emmanuel Plasson, cond; Royal Op O; Hikaru Kobayashi1, Ryoichi Hirano1, Samantha Raine1, Bennet Gartside1, Leanne Benjamin2, Valweri Hristov2, Yuhui Choe3, Alexander Campbell3, Emma Maguire4, Akane Takada4, Dawid Trzensimiech4, Marianela Nuñez4, Nehemiah Kish4, Edward Watson4, Tamara Rojo5, Sergei Polunin5 (dancers) OPUS ARTE 1116 (DVD: 84:00 + 15:00) Live: London 2/21/2013

RAVEL 1La Valse. MASSENET 2 “Méditation” from Thäis. J. STRAUSS II 3Voices of Spring. SATIE 4Monotones I and II. LISZT 5Marguerite and Armand &

& Introduction to Frederick Ashton & the ballets (15:00)

Once again, the Royal Ballet expands our knowledge of Frederick Ashton’s ballets. Few are the viewers familiar with La Valse, an ensemble work from 1958. It is not an eye-opener to the extent that Les Patineurs or Scènes de Ballet are, but it is a consolidation of his work as a whole. Three demi-soloist pairs lead a large ensemble, with much to-ing and fro-ing, sometimes a bit too wedded to the music, with steps returning as the music to which they were first seen returns. David Vaughan in his Frederick Ashton and his Ballets mentions that Francis Poulenc told the choreographer that he found it the most successful realization of Ravel’s score he had ever seen after the creation at La Scala. Monotones I and II are far more substantial works to far less substantial music by Erik Satie, but the constraints Ashton placed on himself, evoking a distant planet—in first a pas de trois for two women and one man, and then for two men and one woman—leave the audience agape at the ease with which they transcend an exercise in minimalism. Neither trio has any of the bravura displays we tend to associate with a classic pas de trois, the key aspect being total control of the body as the dancers appear to be floating in space. All six dancers are attuned to the requirements and hold us spellbound. The two divertissements are already familiar from the Ashton DVD I reviewed in July 2012, but differently cast. Leanne Benjamin is suitably ethereal in the “Méditation” from Thaïs while Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell are decidedly cheeky in the Voices of Spring, without effacing memories of Carlos Acosta’s mugging in the earlier DVD. It is unfortunate that Marguerite and Armand fills out the disc. Created in 1963 for Nureyev and the rejuvenated Margot Fonteyn, the choreography is virtually non-existent, though there is more than sufficient opportunity to emote. The Liszt Piano Sonata is now on at least its third orchestration for the Royal Ballet, but neither the music nor the choreography profits from mutual enhancement. As a vehicle for a fading ballerina the work is of limited interest, and Tamara Rojo is far from that status. Those of us old enough to remember the Royal Ballet’s visits to New York can also remember the dread of all those programs ending with Marguerite and Armand, although it did allow us to return home earlier.

The bonus features are noteworthy for informing us of the creation of the Ashton Foundation, which will presumably function in the same manner as the Balanchine Foundation, before too much is lost as the older generation leaves us. We can only hope that this spring’s Ashton Celebration organized by the Sarasota Ballet will give new impulse to preservation of this heritage, with lectures, films, and performances of 11 works (April 30—May 3). And perhaps some of the rarities may be filmed for Ashton’s admirers.

FANFARE: Joel Kasow

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 29, 2013

  • UPC: 809478011163

  • Catalog Number: OA 1116D

  • Label: Opus Arte

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Ravel, Massenet, Satie, Liszt

  • Performer: Galeazzi, Pennefather, Maguire, Zucchetti, Takada, Trzensimiech, Nunez, Bonelli, Watson, Rojo, Saund