This 2010 recording of Tchaikovsky's eternally popular Swan Lake ballet, with Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra might be ideal for dancing, but it is less ideal purely as a listening experience.
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This is the second instalment in our series devoted to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets. The first recording, of The Sleeping Beauty, was praised upon its release, described by a reviewer in American Record Guide as ‘one of the finest I’ve heard’. Here Neeme Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra present the complete version of Swan Lake, with the pre-eminent James Ehnes lending his magic to the violin solos. This was Tchaikovsky’s first full-length ballet, but its premiere in 1877, staged at Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre, was by no means a resounding success. According to most accounts, the choreography was inept, the shabby sets and costumes were borrowed from other productions, and the orchestral playing was poor. Most ballet companies today base their productions on the 1895 revival by the distinguished choreographer Marius Petipa. Although this revival has been seen as more ‘danceable’, one may argue that the overall cuts and reordering ultimately destroyed Tchaikovsky’s ground plan of drama and tonality. Here we present Tchaikovsky’s original Bolshoy score of twenty-nine numbers across four acts, along with two supplementary numbers which Tchaikovsky provided not long after the premiere.
Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodied by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.