WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Jiří Kylián's Car Men

Debussy / Netherland Dans Theater / Haitink
Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 102101  
Composer:  Georges BizetClaude Debussy
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CAR MEN Bernard Haitink, cond; 2 Nico de Rooy (pn); 1 Concertgebouw O; 2 Nederlands Dans Theater ARTHAUS 102 101 (DVD: 61:00)

Bizet (arr. Otten) Carmen: Excerpts. Debussy Préludes, Bk. Read more 1: “La cathédrale engloutie.” 1 Prélude de l’après-midi d’un faune 2

An Arthaus DVD of Ji?í Kylián’s choreographic takes on Haydn, Janá?ek, and Chavez was released last year (Arthaus 100 444). Here we find Kylián giving us his takes on Bizet and Debussy—and memorable takes they are.

Car Men , a film made in collaboration with Boris Pavel Conen, predictably uses the music of Bizet’s Carmen as one thread. Filmed in black and white of stunning immediacy (no distancing effects here), Kylián nevertheless uses speeded-up cinematography to enhance the references to early film, particularly Laurel and Hardy. The music we hear is in effect a collage of snippets from Bizet’s opera, arranged, manipulated, and juxtaposed by the Dutch composer Hans Otten. There is a cartoon element to this, also (witness the running over of Carmen and the way she simply gets up again afterwards). The setting is a disused coal mine in the Czech Republic, just near the German border. Music as well as cinematography is speeded up, enhancing the surreal nature of the entire experience. Dream, reality, and surrealism all merge as the lines of delineation between them become remarkably blurred. Some of the slapstick is laugh-out-loud funny, while a scene of a bullfight, with a car in lieu of the bull, is actually remarkably disturbing. The piece climaxes in a car race, with the vehicles themselves made from scrap.The music itself we hear in snippets, mainly in caricature but sometimes in the original (in the latter case usually emanating from what seems to be a radio somewhere in the distance).

There are four dancers for Car Men : Sabine Kupferberg as Carmen, who seems to have acted as Kylián’s muse as well as being his wife; Gioconda Barbuto as Micaëla; David Krüger as Escamillo; and Karel Hruška as Don José. The independent Carmen, at the end, simply abandons her colleagues, mirroring her role model. Kylián was, in early life, fascinated by the circus, and that early influence comes out writ large throughout, here. Gripping, from first to last.

The two other films are essentially marketed as fillers. Although Silent Cries is advertised as the third film on the back cover of the DVD case and in the booklet, it is the second film on the DVD itself. Here, the soundtrack is Debussy’s seminal Prélude de l’après-midi d’un faune (the performance by Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra is used). Sabine Kupferberg is the only soloist, appearing behind a dirt-smeared pane of glass. Kylián’s danced interpretation of Debussy centers on intense self-examination, resulting, of course, in a torrent of emotions. Beautifully lit by Joop Vaboort, this is an intense and sensual experience that makes reference to Munch in the actual choreography as well as in the title.

Kylián reduces the music of Debussy’s orignal Prélude, “La cathédrale engloutie,” to its barest bones. Just before the dance piece begins, the screen is filled with the following: “. . . and the cathedral built to praise God disappeared below the waters of the sea because the people lived a life of immorality . . . only at night it can be heard: the knell of the clocks of the deep.” We hear, initially, actual sounds of the sea as we are introduced to our dancers—Jeanne Solan, Karen Tims, Nils Christe, and Eric McCullough, divided into two couples. These sea sounds permeate the 22-minute experience. It is some three minutes before we hear the opening of the Debussy, and even then it cuts off after a couple of measures, itself returning to the waves. The continuing snippets of music we hear invite us to hear across the waves, on to the next measure. Finally, a full 14 minutes in, the piano piece begins as Debussy intended it. The piano sound comes across as rather shallow, as does Nico de Rooy’s interpretation. A pity, as the staging is ultra-subtle and beautiful. The disc retains its recommendation in spite of this.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Car Men
A film by Boris Paval Conen and Ji?í Kylián (2006)
Music by Bizet, arranged by Han Otten
Sabine Kupferberg, Karel Hruška, David Krügel, Giogonda Barbuto, dancers

La Cathédrale engloutie
Choreography by Ji?í Kylián (1975)
Music by Claude Debussy

Silent Cries
Choreography by Ji?í Kylián (1983, film version)
Music by Claude Debussy
Sabine Kupferberg, dancer

Picture format: NTSC 16:9 / 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Running time: 61 mins
Read less

Works on This Recording

Carmen: Excerpt(s) by Georges Bizet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Notes: Arranged: Han Otten 
Préludes, Book 1: no 10, La cathédrale engloutie by Claude Debussy
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title