This Oscar-nominated documentary, narrated by the legendary Princess Grace of Monaco, tells the story of Russia's famous ballet academy, the Kirov School, that produced some of the greatest dancers in the history of ballet, such as Nijinsky, Pavlova, Nureyev.
“Gergiev conducts a sweeping performance, with a typically superb cast of the Kirov's revival years, full of rising stars - Diadkova, Ognovenko, Bezzubenkov and the superb character tenor Gassiev. Charming also is the staging, reproduced from airy, painterly 1920s sets. Museum opera, maybe; but then museums are there to preserve treasures. And this is an absolute gem.”(Music Magazine)
There is not much to fault in this quintessentially Russian opera with the lavish staging and fantastic costumes surely a feat to the eye. You cannot find much fault on the musical side of things either as many have expressed their opinion that this remains the finest version of the opera by a mile. The charismatic and almost demonic Gergiev conducts with his systematic, unabated passion for music which is most certainly in his blood and his players definitely do him proud. The cast is also top notch on all counts with Netrebko and Gorchakova particularly impressive.
The Firebird is an exciting one-hour dance special based on the mystical Russian folk tale of enchantment and love, and is set to Stravinsky’s fantastical ballet score. This adaption of James Kudelka’s masterpiece for the stage, combines classical ballet with magical visual effects.
This is one of Gergiev's finer performances on disc. His rhythmically taut, propulsive conducting makes for a powerful rendition of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony-one that is strongly argued and purposefully projects the work's grand, dramatic sweep. (on Symphony No. 7)
Gergiev gives the Fifth an admirably direct, clean performance full of excitement and intensity. (on Symphony No. 5)
Gergiev's Shostakovich Fourth has a textural clarity that reveals many rarely-heard details, such as the strings' shimmering Ravelian downward scale in the first movement's final bars. (on Symphony No. 4) – classisctoday.com
Gergiev's is a Rite of Spring with a difference. He stresses the primitive barbarism of Stravinsky's groundbreaking score–the strange wheezings of the winds, the wild yawps of the tubas, and the deep rumblings of the bass drum. It's a Rite that stands out at a time when so many internationalized western orchestras give the piece an overlay of sophisticated polish that can rob it of the shock factor that drove the audience at the Paris premiere to riot. There are also numerous personal touches that can be controversial, such as the pause before the final chord, which may bother some but which work in the context of the interpretation. Gergiev's Rite faces strong competition from recorded versions by Markevitch, Dorati, Monteux, and Stravinsky himself, but it's definitely among the top choices. The Scriabin's less compelling, though still fascinating. Gergiev's approach tends to sound sectional, as the overall line is subordinated to momentary thrills. –Dan Davis