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The Glory Of The Bolshoi DVD

| DVD

The Glory of the Bolshoi is a feature-length anthology of rare archive films showcasing the Bolshoi Ballet's greatest dancers and some very fine performances. Spanning almost a century, there are 19 selections, either complete dances or extracts. There is no commentary or documentary content, simply a succession of great ballet. Everything here is a highlight, from a pas de deux by Ekaterina Geltzer and Vasili Tikhomirov to music by Schubert which dates, extraordinarily, from 1913, through to a series of chapters showing the development of Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev, including their debut together at the age of 13. At 20 minutes the longest sequence is also different to anything else on the DVD, offering the opportunity to contrast two performances of Khachaturian's Spartacus, from 1968 with Vasiliev, and from 1984 with Natalia Bessmertnova as Phrygia. Apart from this sequence a chronological presentation of the material would surely have made more sense than the apparently random order of much of the disc, but otherwise this is a superb compilation of great historic value. A companion title, The Glory of the Kirov is also available. On the DVD: The Glory of the Bolshoi plays for 90 minutes, with almost exactly half the material in colour. While inevitably of variable quality, the 4:3 ratio picture is overall of a very high standard. The sound varies between mono and stereo and, apart from unavoidable patches of distortion, is more than acceptable. There is a Web link and booklet notes, but no special features--a disappointment on an excellent programme crying out for a commentary track to place everything in context. --Gary S. Dalkin

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