Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


 REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively
DVD: Crotchet


Joni MITCHELL (b. 1943)
The Fiddle and the Drum (2007)
The Alberta Ballet
rec. 8 February 2007, Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101347 [115:26]
Experience Classicsonline

Joni Mitchell is one of the most important poet/philosophers who grew out of the 60s hippy scene, creating music which had a social conscience, at a time when the expression social conscience didn't exist. Big Yellow Taxi is all about corporate America destroying Maw and Paw's dream. She fully understood the youth movement within a larger context; We are stardust, we are golden and we got to get ourselves back to the garden, she wrote in Woodstock, the anthem for a whole generation.
 
It's over 40 years since her first LP appeared and although her recorded legacy isn't huge, what there is is of great significance and infinite importance. As the hippy chick who told us about the excitement of the Chelsea Morning, and grew in stature and sang of loss, of love Amour, mama – whilst meditating on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart - for a real treat check out the Shadows and Light live album where she performs a truly incandescent version of Amelia which is highlighted by a transcendental solo from Pat Metheny - finding herself to be a mature woman pondering on where it all went in the beautiful Chinese Café. It’s a rich legacy and it cannot be ignored at any cost.
 
Because I am a big fan of Joni Mitchell, anything she does is of interest to me and this ballet, which was the brainchild of Jean Grand-Maitre and Mitchell, promised much; it is based on Mitchell's well known concerns of environmental neglect and the warring nature of mankind. Set to music both old and new, conceived for a small band with Mitchell's unique vocals leading proceedings, this ballet is in nine, brief, tableaux, set on an empty stage in front of a continuing video behind and above the dancers – which you cannot always see during the performance so, very sensibly, a separate track of this video alone, together with the music, has been included on the DVD. The stage is consistently dark, light coming from their bodies of the dancers themselves. There is no scenery and there are no props except the occasional soldier's hard hats. So visuals and our prior knowledge of Mitchell's interests go together to point the way as to where the performance is going to take us.
 
The burning question is exactly how much do the music and the dance relate to each other and do they really work together? There is much to enjoy in the abstract movement of the dancers, there is little that is overt or obvious – except the Christ figure in Passion Play – and most of the piece moves in a fairly medium paced way, the music all being of a relaxed tempo. This is, of course, one of the joys of popular music in that it can be so radically transformed, and an up–tempo number can exist, equally satisfactorily, as a ballad. However, having written that I have to say that this freedom can also work against the music. Take the song For the Roses, one of my favourites amongst her works, a meditation on the fickleness of fame and fandom. On the eponymous album it is a quick, muted, reflection, in the ballet it is blown out of all proportion and sense. My big problem with the whole enterprise is that the music is so bland, with everything being done in the same way, with the identical, or similar, instrumentation. Mitchell is one of the most varied of all popular music composers yet we hear none of this here – the whole piece never smiles. One other point concerning the music. It is almost de rigueur to, when performing a song live, vary the vocal line, sometimes out of all recognition. Here, we have a 21st century, very funky, version of Big Yellow Taxi, which is used as an encore, which would be totally unrecognisable if one were reliant on the tune for recognition.
 
But all that aside I have to say that I really enjoyed this work. The music is of the highest quality, as one would expect from an artist of Mitchell's stature, and the dance is suitably intriguing so as to keep one wondering what we will see next. At the end we are left with the imagine of a young child giving the hippy peace sign with her hand – Joni Mitchell has come a long way artistically since Song for a Seagull in 1967, but the young hippy girl is still there.
 
Apart from the ballet, the DVD includes short interviews with Mitchell and Maitre and dancers Kelley McKinlay and Nicole Caron, as well as director of filming Mario Rouleau, the complete Cyclops video and the images for the Green Flag Song.
 
Give this a try – it's really worth it.
 
Bob Briggs
 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.