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Aragón: Snow White Ballet / Rojo, Urlezaga

Aragon / Rojo / Urlezaga / Bbso
Release Date: 02/12/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001052009  
Composer:  Emilio Aragón
Conductor:  Emilio Aragón
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilbao Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

ARAGÓN Snow White & Emilio Aragón, cond; Tamara Rojo ( Snow White ); Iñaki Urlezaga ( Prince ); Magdalena Aizpurua ( The Queen ); Elsa Morris ( The Witch ); Roberto Sánchez, Iván Sanches ( The Pages ); Diego Benito, Jacob Hernández, Aleix Read more Mañé, Narcis Subatella, Angel Blanco, Daniel Vizcayo, Federico Fressi ( The Seven Dwarfs ); Bilbao SO DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 001052009 (DVD: 140:00) Live: Bilbao 11/4/2005

& “The Making of Snow White”; interviews with Aragón and Rojo

It would be easy for a critic, particularly when reviewing Emilio Aragón’s purely instrumental works, to criticize him for over-lushness, a certain echt- Romanticism in keeping with today’s new tradition of “classics lite,” but the ballet world is dependent on understandable and danceable music, not harmonically congested modernisms, as Prokofiev learned when he created Romeo and Juliet in the 1930s. And, let’s be honest, haven’t we had our fill of ugly art in our time?

Thus this DVD of Snow White came as a most pleasant and pleasing shock: a full-length classical ballet, created by a musician who apparently is better known as an actor, that is not only acceptable but brilliant in every respect. This is an old-fashioned Romantic ballet that, like Romeo and Juliet, has its share of spiky harmonies to illustrate the fact that it is indeed modern and not a product of Tchaikovsky’s era. I am delighted to say that Aragón succeeds beautifully in this respect. His music, for a first ballet, is not only well crafted but also in many places original and inventive, which makes it as good if not better than Elvis Costello’s fascinating but slightly uneven ballet, Il sogno. Occasionally, in a moment such as No. 10, “Refuge in the night,” the music seems to tend more towards pop than classical, but Aragón’s piquant musical mind keeps it from becoming that banal by using unusual harmonies and rhythmic tricks to sustain interest.

The production is exceptionally beautiful, but Ricardo Cué’s choreography struck me as rather pedestrian and ordinary. He fails to exploit the more virtuosic aspects of his dancers, choosing instead to block them with rather easy, conventional moves, particularly the Seven Dwarves. He is more into tableaux and telling a story than flash, which is good except in the showcase dances I want some flash. But he does create a gorgeous freeze-frame tableaux in the “Death of Snow White,” and the pas de deux , though simple, is effective. Only in the final pas de deux does Cué pull out all the stops, with spectacular results. Highly touted ballerina Tamara Rojo dances with exceptional beauty and grace. I enjoyed Magdalena Aizpurua’s tongue-in-cheek villainy as the wicked Queen, and though his appearance is brief (and not very well explained, a plot flaw that could use some correction), Iñaki Urlezaga was excellent as the Prince.

Still, it was extremely enjoyable to see a real classical ballet that I think stands a chance of becoming a repertoire item. I’m not so sure, however, that this is a good DVD for children, at least not children under the age of 12. Youngsters tend not to like old fairy tales to begin with, and they have a hard time sitting through such a drawn-out, completely wordless presentation nowadays. Recommended.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley

Bonus: The Making of Snow White · Interviews with Emilio Aragón and Tamara Rojo

Tamara Rojo · Iñaki Urlezaga
Bilbao Symphony Orchestra
Emilio Aragón
Choreography: Ricardo Cué

DVD-VIDEO NTSC 073 4416 |G|H|
Picture Format: 4:3
Subtitles: English

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Works on This Recording

Snow White by Emilio Aragón
Conductor:  Emilio Aragón
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilbao Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/04/2005 
Venue:  Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao 

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