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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DVD REVIEW

 

QUATUOR EBENE

Fiction.
Live in Paris at the Folies Bergère

VIRGIN CLASSICS DVD
5099962866897

 

 

  1. Footprints
  2. Nature Boy
  3. Misirlou
  4. Unrequited
  5. Calling you
  6. Corcovado
  7. All Blues/So What
  8. Over the Rainbow
  9. Libertango
  10. Nothing Personal
  11. 7- 29-04 The Day Of, from Ocean's 12
  12. Streets of Philadelphia
Stacey Kent : Natalie Dessay (soprano)
Quator Ebène with Richard Héry (drums) and Jim Tomlinson (saxophones)

rec. at the Folies Bergère 15 November 2010

TV Format HTSC 16:9; Sound LPCM Stereo DTS 5.0 - DD 5.0: Subtitles E; DVD: Format DVD 9

 

 

Last year I reviewed a CD of studio recording by the Quatuor Ebène which contains much of the material presented in this DVD which they performed live at the Folies Bergère (see review).

The concert featured Stacey Kent and Natalie Dessay, as did the CD, but not Fanny Ardant. So some adjustment is necessary. The DVD is not a replica of the CD; one is studio bound, the other live, and the material is slightly different too. But I would say that very clearly the ethos is much the same and the arrangements largely unaltered give or take some improvisational flourishes, especially from the first violin and principal improviser, Pierre Colombet.

The concert opens in semi-darkness with Footprints. The strings have microphones placed against the bridges of their instruments to ensure amplification, and music is on the music stands. The quartet wear simple black shirts and jackets; no ties. A mirror behind them reflects their backs to the audience. Things are spartan but effective visually.

Misirlou from Pulp Fiction manages simultaneously to be Piazzollan and Bart¢kian, and it was the former influence I noticed on CD, whereas in the concert I was reminded just as much of the latter. One of the relative weaknesses of the quartet's approach is that, rather like a folk band, the first fiddle bears the greatest weight whilst the remaining three string players are left to add harmonies, or to play pizzicato or arco as appropriate. Calling You, music from Bagdad Cafe brings to the fore drummer Richard Héry who at one point plays the cymbals with a bow. This is visually interesting but musically earnest and respectful, and has something of a stunt quality about it; more a recital oddity than a truly integrated musical necessity.

Thank the Lord for vocalist Stacey Kent, chic and elegant as ever, but alas her hand-held microphone proves a liability. She's heard to much better effect on the CD. Her husband, Jim Tomlinson, plays attractively as ever - but, really, what's with the ponytail and stubble? Natalie Dessay sings decently enough but Over the Rainbow proves sickly on repetition and her attempt at scat singing - risible in the case of most jazz musicians let alone a classical singer - is not an experiment she should soon repeat. As the concert wears on, it's good to note that second violinist Gabriel le Magadure takes the lion's share on Nothing Personal. Violist Mathieu Herzog sings on Streets of Philadelphia.

For some reason not easy to define I much preferred the CD to this DVD.

There are some decent but not hugely involving `bonuses' - of which the best is the Stacey Kent footage. I should also make clear that the track listing claims that Someday My Prince Will Come is here. It isn't. And he won't.

Jonathan Woolf



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