DVD Videos

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

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Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Live at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 2013


Sophie Koch (Mère Marie de l’Incarnation), Patricia Petibon (Blanche de La Force), Véronique Gens (Madame Lidoine), Sandrine Piau (Soeur Constance de Saint Denis), Rosalind Plowright (Madame de Croissy), Topi Lehtipuu (Le Chevalier de La Force), Philippe Rouillon (Le Marquis de La Force), Annie Vavrille (Mère Jeanne de l’Enfant Jésus), Sophie Pondjiclis (Soeur Mathilde), François Piolino (Le Père confesseur du couvent), Jérémy Duffau (Le premier commissaire), Yuri Kissin (Le second commissaire, un officier) & Matthieu Lécroart (Le geôlier)

Philharmonia Orchestra & Chœur du Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Jérémie Rhorer (conductor) & Olivier Py (director)

Rosalind Plowright talks to Presto's Katherine Cooper about the production and the role of Madame de Croissy here.

Pierre-André Weitz – design and costumes

Bertrand Killy – lighting

Hervé Gary – lighting

Natalie Van Parys – choreography

Olivier Simonnet – filming director

At the end of 2013, the year that marked the 50th anniversary of Francis Poulenc’s death, his gripping and moving operatic masterpiece, Dialogues des Carmélites was staged in Paris by director Olivier Py with a cast featuring some of France’s finest female singers – Patricia Petitbon, Véronique Gens, Sandrine Piau and Sophie Koch – under the baton of Jérémie Rohrer. Le Figaro described the production as “a thing of wonder,” while Le Monde called it: “A masterpiece ... the most exciting and consummately achieved show to have been seen on a Parisian stage in a long time … This was great work, magisterial and unforgettable.”

“The memorable Dialogues des Carmélites at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées marked the climax of commemorative activities for the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death,” wrote Opera magazine of the production of Poulenc’s gripping and moving opera that was staged by the French director Olivier Py in Paris in December 2013.

Among operas composed in the post-War era, Dialogues des Carmélites, first seen in 1957 at La Scala, is one of the most frequently performed and best loved. Set during the French Revolution, it tells the story of a highly-strung young aristocrat, Blanche de la Force, who seeks peace by joining a convent and finally goes to the guillotine with her fellow nuns. Faith, fear, and sacrifice are among the issues it addresses with music – sometimes austere, sometimes sensuous, sometimes both at once – that exemplifies Poulenc’s characteristic amalgam of simplicity and sophistication. Its final scene, as the nuns go one by one to their execution while singing a soaring ‘Salve regina’, is of spine-tingling pathos and power.

The stark, monochrome decor for Py’s production, designed by André Weitz, makes use of sliding panels that open and close to create the acting space or reveal expressionist vistas, while the costumes evoke the first half of the 20th century rather than the era of the Revolution itself. Especially striking is the death scene of Madame de Croissy, the old Prioress, searingly sung and acted by the British mezzo-soprano Rosalind Plowright: the audience views her agonies as if from above, since her bed is mounted vertically on the rear panel of the stage. Later in the opera, when it comes to the final night in their convent, before their expulsion by the revolutionaries, the nuns are assembled as if for the Last Supper, while the stunning, transcendent final scene is set against a starry sky.

Duration: 169 minutes

Languages: Sung in French, with subtitles available in English and German

Audio specs: Stereo Dolby 5.1

“Olivier Py's austere 1930s production boasts a distinguished, largely Francophone cast, headed by Poulenc specialist Patricia Petibon as Blanche, Sophie Koch as the fanatical Mère Marie, and British mezzo Rosalind Plowright as the tortured Old Prioress.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 21st November 2014

“Breathtakingly conducted by Jérémie Rohrer, it boasts one of the finest casts ever assembled for the piece. Patricia Petibon gives the performance of a lifetime as Blanche...[Plowright's] performance has a dramatic veracity that is disturbing in the extreme...Long sceptical about the piece, I was completely won over – the highest complement I can pay it.” The Guardian, 12th December 2014 *****

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Güher & Süher Pekinel in concert

Güher & Süher Pekinel in concert

Live from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Ludwigsburg International Music Festival, 2012


Bartók:

Concerto for 2 pianos, percussion & orchestra, BB 121, Sz. 115

Zubin Mehta

Brahms:

Hungarian Dance No. 5

for two pianos

Debussy:

En blanc et noir

Infante:

Danze andaluse (for 2 pianos): No. 2 Sentimento

Lutoslawski:

Variations on a Theme by Paganini, for two pianos

Milhaud:

Brazileira from Scaramouche

for two pianos

Mozart:

Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K448

Poulenc:

Elegie

for two pianos

Schubert:

Fantasie in F minor for piano duet, D940


DVD + CD

The two concerts from 2012 released on this DVD once again prove what Güher and Süher Pekinel are famous for: playing piano with the sixth sense. Whether they play Bartók’s Concerto for two pianos and percussion at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (conducted by Zubin Mehta) or Schubert’s wonderful Fantasia in F minor at the Ludwigsburg International Music Festival – their total homogeneity is not only audible but also visible.

They seldom sit facing one another, as in the Bartók concerto. They love the risk involved in having the pianos placed one behind the other, which is highly benefi cial in acoustic terms and forces them to be particularly keen-eared. One of them sees only her sister’s back, while the other sees nothing of her fellow performer at all. Where others make use of facial expressions and gestures, they have to rely completely on their ears.

In addition to Bartók and Schubert they also interpret Debussy, Mozart, Poulenc and Lutosławski, which makes this DVD a diversified and refreshing experience for the ears and for the eyes.

BONUS: CD with parts of the Live Concerts

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 16:9

DVD Format: DVD 9 NTSC

Running Time: 111 mins (Concert), 61 mins (Bonus CD)

FSK: 0

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Paul Taylor Ballet Company in Paris

Paul Taylor Ballet Company in Paris


BACH: Brandenburgs - opus 88 (1988)

with Michael Trusnovec, Amy Young, Parisa Khobdeh, Eran Bugge, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak

POULENC: Beloved Renegade - opus 129 (2008)

with Michael Trusnovec, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Laura Halzack, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Aileen Roehl, Heather Mcginley


Paul Taylor Ballet Company

Paul Taylor is widely considered to be one of the foremost American choreographers of the 20th century. Paul Taylor is among the last living members of the second generation of America’s modern dance artists. He has continued to win acclaim for his recent creations as well as stagings of his earlier works. As prolific as ever, he may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, or use them to wordlessly illuminate war, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality. This programme was recorded in 2012 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris and is composed of two ballets.

First performed in 1988 to music from Bach’s Brandenburg concertos 3 and 6. 'Brandenburgs' is cast for a man and three women, plus an ensemble of five men. In an unusual stroke for Taylor, he uses the male quintet as a proper corps de ballet - that is, they frame the action and move only as a group, anonymously. The sharp hierarchical distinction between soloists and ensemble accounts for one aspect of the dance’s classical feel. More important, though, is the ensemble’s attitude toward the soloists.

Set to Francis Poulenc’s 'Gloria', the dance was inspired by the life and work of 19th-century American writer Walt Whitman, who revered body and soul as one and who famously loved all with equal ardour. It depicts the experiences of an artist described in a line from Whitman’s 'Leaves of Grass': “I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the soul.”

Choreography PAUL TAYLOR

Costumes: SANTO LOQUASTO

Lighting: JENNIFER TIPTON

HD recording Théâtre National de Chaillot, Festival Les Étés de la Danse 2012

“The performance given by his company boasts a display of energy that appears boundless, yet it is so carefully drawn to its exact architectural dimensions. It achieves a fluid freedom of expression in its erudition, yet its reading is never amorphous, but exact in pattern and shape … it is as if the mortal were expressing the immortal” international Dance Review, 5th June 2013

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Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Filmed in HD at the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich), 03/2010


Alain Vernhes (Marquis de la Force), Susan Gritton (Blanche de la Force), Bernard Richter (Chevalier de la Force), Sylvie Brunet (Madame de Croissy), Soile Isokoski (Madame Lidoine), Susanne Resmark (Mère Marie), Hélène Guilmette (Soeur Constance), Heike Grötzinger (Mère Jeanne) & Anaïk Morel (Soeur Mathilde)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Kent Nagano

Stage direction and set design: Dmitri Tcherniakov

Costumes Elena Zaytseva, Lighting Gleb Filshtinsky

A passionate lover of the human voice, Francis Poulenc composed the Dialogues des Carmélites in 1953, using a libretto he himself had written from a screenplay by Georges Bernanos. The first ever performances in Munich, this production was entrusted to Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose worldwide reputation is underpinned by productions like Eugene Onegin and Macbeth at the Paris Opera and Don Giovanni at Aixen-Provence.

The superb international cast includes a fine Blanche de la Force in Susan Gritton and an excellent Madame de Croissy by Sylvie Brunet, who was favourably compared to Rita Gorr in the press. They are superbly backed up by Soile Isokoski, Susanne Resmark, Hélène Guilmette, Alain Vernhes and the fabulous Bernard Richter.

Kent Nagano with the Dialogues literally at his fingertips – he recorded a landmark version some years ago – is at the helm of the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Duration : 146 minutes

Subtitles : Fr, Eng, Ger, Spa

Colour 16/9, NTSC

PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1

“[the production is] set in a soulless authoritarian state but filmed in a way that underlines individual dilemmas and common humanity. It is worth watching for Sylvie Brunet’s doughty Madame de Croissy, Soile Isokoski’s gracious Madame Lidoine and Susan Gritton’s winning Blanche.” Financial Times, 4th June 2011 ***

“Tcherniakov's production is probably the most physically active Dialogues ever staged. Everyone is seemingly in constant motion...Sylvie Brunet is a memorably formidable and pitiable Croissy...Helen Guilmette's Constance, lively but never cloying or cute, is immeasurably enhanced by heavenly floated pianissimi...Isokoski, suitably dignified in her role, is in ravishing voice.” International Record Review, July/August 2011

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La Voix Humaine & Une Education Manquee

La Voix Humaine & Une Education Manquee


Chabrier:

Une Education Manquee

Franck Cassard, Mary Saint Palais & Philippe Fourcade

Sinfonietta de Picardie, Michel Swierczewski

Poulenc:

La Voix Humaine

Anne-Sophie Schmidt

Orchestre Ostinato, Jean-Luc Tingaud


The third release in ‘L’Opéra Français Collection’ series of DVDs, covering the diverse repertoire of French Opera. This DVD, with a duration of 112 mins plus a bonus DVD exploring the Theatre Imperial, duration 187 mins, comes in glowing 5.1 surround sound for the main DVD plus English subtitles.

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Susan Graham - French Songs

Susan Graham - French Songs

Recorded at Verbier Festival, July 2009


Bachelet:

Chère nuit

Bizet:

Chanson d'Avril

Caplet:

Le corbeau et le renard

Chabrier:

Les Cigales

Debussy:

Colloque sentimental

Duparc:

Au pays ou se fait la guerre

Fauré:

Vocalise-étude

Franck, C:

Nocturne

Hahn, R:

A Chloris

Honegger:

Trois Chansons de la Petite Sirène H 63

Poulenc:

La Dame de Monte Carlo

Ravel:

Le paon

Rosenthal, Manuel:

La souris d'Angleterre

Roussel:

Réponse d'une épouse sage, Op. 35 No. 2

Saint-Saëns:

Danse macabre, Op. 40


Susan Graham (mezzo-soprano) & Malcolm Martineau (piano)

This series of TV programmes presents the very best of the 16th Verbier Festival with worldwide renowned artists such as Susan Graham, Martha Argerich, Yuri Temirkanov, Stephen Kovacevich, and Philippe Jaroussky.

Together with Malcolm Martineau on the piano, the Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham features a fascinating compilation of well-known French composers.

Both have also toured with the program - comprising nearly two dozen songs by as many composers - to great acclaim. The recital Graham and Martineau gave this past summer at the Verbier Festival in French-speaking Switzerland brought down the house.

Being Musical America’s 2004 Vocalist of the year, Graham is well-known as an expert in French melodies. The genre is known as a very tricky one, but she presents the songs with a fascinating jewel-like clarity and gleaming tone. Martineau is the perfect counter-part who adds some finely judged French seasoning.

Picture format DVD: NTSC 16:9

Sounds formats DVD: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1

Region code: 0

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 60 min

FSK: 0

“An hour of pure delight...Graham is utterly at home in this repertoire an performs it with élan...Martineau is the perfect partner throughout, perfectly jusging depth of tone, moving as one with Graham and displaying the same level of control...with a gentle smile, Hahn's sublime 'À Chloris' surpasses all that has come before.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010 *****

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - December 2010

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The King's Singers - Live at The BBC Proms

The King's Singers - Live at The BBC Proms

Recorded Royal Albert Hall, London 5th August 2008


Bridge, Frederick:

The Goslings

Hobbs:

Phillis is my only joy

Janequin:

La guerre

Lasso:

Dessus le Marche d'Arras

Toutes les Nuitz

McCabe, J:

Scenes in America Deserta

Passereau:

Il est bel et bon

Poulenc:

Chansons françaises

Rogers, J:

Hears not my Phyllis

Sullivan, A:

The long day closes

trad.:

The Little Green Lane

arr. S. E. Lovatt

Greensleeves

arr. Bob Chilcott

Blow Away the Morning Dew

arr. Gordon Langford

The Turtle Dove

arr. Philip Lawson

Widdicombe Fair

arr. Gordon Langford


A live and televised recording from this year's BBC Proms performance on 5th August by the most famous a cappella group ever: the King's Singers. Regularly performing in excess of 100 concerts every season complemented by recording and teaching, The King's Singers delight audiences around the world with their incomparable musicianship, charm and wit.With the recent album release Landscape and Time having been described as possessing "singing of rare distinction", and "stunningly high musical standards", they have maintained their place at the apex of a cappella singing, and are counted amongst the world's elite classical performers. Continuing Signum's release series in celebration of the group's 40th Anniversary year, Simple Gifts (SIGCD121) and a 5-CD ‘best of’ (SIGCD120), this performance was in many ways a retrospective of the groups musical history, encompassing some of the earliest arrangements that the original line-up performed right up to contemporary works that they recently commissioned. Available on CD and DVD, the DVD includes extra interviews with the group from Suzy Klein and Gareth Malone, star of BBC series The Choir, and can also be enjoyed in 5.1 surround sound.

CONCERT REVIEW:

"In an exquisitely programmed concert, there was music ranging from the Renaissance to the present, including the opening selection of Poulenc's witty “Chansons françaises" and various Victorian parlour songs "in the biggest Victorian parlour ever built." …the pure quality of the vocal balance is quite extraordinary. The King's Singers had travelled back in time some 400 years (who needs Dr Who at the Proms?). Then followed an example of the many works the group has commissioned, John McCabe's haunting evocation of American wastelands, "Scenes in America deserta", based on the writings of architectural historian Reyner Banham. McCabe took his bow. The evening ended with folksongs arranged by Gordon Langford and members of the group, Bob Chilcott (who left in 1997) and current baritone Philip Lawson. Langford's "Widdicombe" Fair played to the group's effortless resource of funny voices and genial comedy. The encore was Arthur Sullivan's arrangement of "The Long Day Closes", apposite for a concert finishing at fifteen minutes short of midnight and perfectly judged in this performance." Classical Source

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The Best of Joan Sutherland

The Best of Joan Sutherland

Featuring works by Donizetti, Cilea, Poulenc, Delibes & Lehár


Joan Sutherland

Elizabethan Sydney Orchestra & Elizabethan Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge

Dame Joan Sutherland, Australian Icon and declared National Treasure, has been described as the foremost soprano of our age and one of the greatest operatic artists of all time. This DVD contains highlights of her stage performances with Opera Australia, including many of her most internationally famous and highly acclaimed roles.

PICTURE FORMAT: 4:3
LENGTH: 83 Mins
SOUND: STEREO
SUBTITLES: EN

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Poulenc: Stabat Mater

Poulenc: Stabat Mater


Poulenc:

Stabat Mater

Litanies à la Vierge noire

Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence


Judith Howarth (soprano)

St. John’s, Clare and Gonville & Caius Choirs, BBC Philharmonic, Christopher Robinson

Specials:

•'Virtual Visit’ to the shrine of the Black Madonna of Rocamadour.

•Documentary on Black Madonnas

•32 page illustrated booklet in English, French and German with an in-depth article on Poulenc, Rocamadour and Black Madonnas.

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9

LENGTH: 78 MINS

SOUND: DOLBY SURROUND / LPCM STEREO

SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES

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Carole Farley in…

Carole Farley in…


Menotti:

The Telephone

Poulenc:

La Voix Humaine


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