Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé; Stravinsky: Le Baiser de la Fée [DVD Video]

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

If you are a huge fan of classical Russian ballet of the staunchly Soviet variety, you may want to check out this disc combining Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé with Stravinsky's Le Basier de la Fée. The former, originally a film from 1933, is expanded here with additional music into a one-act ballet with choreography by Alexander Lapauri and Olga Tarasova. The latter, originally produced with choreography by George Balanchine in 1937, is here re-created with choreography by Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliev. Performed by Artists of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater and filmed in 1969, Lieutenant Kijé comes off as a very broad satire on bureaucracy and old-style choreography superbly danced by the expressive Raisa Struchkova as the Lady in Waiting and especially the apparently weightless Tatiana Popko as the Feather. Filmed in 1990, Le Baiser de la Fée is performed by Soloists and Artists of the Moscow Classical Ballet Company with amazing dancing and capable acting by Ludmila Vasilieva as Babette, Vladimir Malakhov as Rudy, and the slinky Tatiana Yatsenko as the Ice Maiden. As a video, Kijé is more restrained in its camera work with some close-ups, but not enough to distract from the main stage action. The cameras in Le Baiser, on the other hand, are more active and much more intrusive with perhaps too many close-ups of the very heavily made-up Yatsenko for some tastes. Plus the frequent use of the fog machine in Le Baiser often obscures the dancers' feet, surely not the right tact to take in a ballet. In both works, the orchestral accompaniment is crudely if enthusiastically played, and loudly if poorly recorded. It should be noted that the "additional music" in Kijé, though unaccredited, seems to be a brief excerpt from Prokofiev's earlier ballet The Buffoon plus a percussion section extravaganza that's more rhythm track than music.