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(82:34 DVD, ‘Eclipse France’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Interview 2. The Blue Virgin 3. Mass for the Children 4. The Pendulum LINEUP: Anthony Glise – guitar Directed by Jean-Francois Droulez – Orchestre Divertimento Directed by Frank Thomas – St. Joseph Chamber Choir
Prolusion. US composer and musician Anthony GLISE has managed to attain a number of awards and recognitions so far in his life. He has won the first prize at The International Toscanini Competition in Italy, as the first non-Italian to do so. He's been awarded many diplomas over the years, written many books and even more music in a series of different fields and has been the artist in residence for a fair share of US state art councils over the years. He's had his compositions performed at Carnegie Hall in New York as well as other venues in both the US and in Europe. He's also one of the founding members of the band The Nova Project. "Orchestral Works” is a DVD with live recordings of two of his sacral works, with a short interview and a classical piece as additional contents.
Analysis. In addition to documenting the works of Glise in a live setting, this DVD is the result of a cultural exchange between France and USA, administered by Glise. While the first part took place in the US, this video was recorded during the second part of it, which was held in France. As far as such ventures go, this one probably belongs at the semi-professional level. The editing and choice of shots bear best witness to people experienced, or at least talented, in terms of creating sequences that are interesting to watch. Close-ups of the various participants are blended well with panorama shots of the whole cast, and the main limitation appears to be the number of cameras utilized in the recording. The video quality leaves quite a lot to be desired though. The equipment deployed to capture these sequences doesn't fare well when compared to what even smaller companies use to make live music DVDs these days - the images are blurry and the color balance is of relatively low quality. Overall I get the impression that the video camera or cameras used are in the affordable home consumer range of digital cameras from a few years back. But while the images leave quite a lot to be desired, the sound is good: not top quality unless my ears deceive me, but adequate. I have encountered professional live recordings inferior in quality to this one, and while connoisseurs may not find this impressive I'm pretty certain that many not extremely preoccupied with sound quality will find this more than acceptable. As far as the music goes, this is all about sacral music. Following a brief interview with Glise, in French with English subtitles, we're treated to a piece written for choir and classic guitar – not a very common blend as far as I know, but on this occasion it works pretty well. Personally I'm not that fond of choral efforts, but found this one rather enjoyable. The main attraction on this DVD is the Mass for the Children which, from what I can see, should have had the word martyrs appended at the end of the English translation. It is a relatively brief affair, clocking in at 35 minutes, but a very well made one. Glise's acoustic guitar, blended with orchestra, choir and brief interludes with readings by children from letters and stories written by other children who have encountered various tragic events all add up to a powerful and emotional experience. If the regular Sunday mass had been anything like this one normally, the churches of the world would have had capacity problems as a general problem. And while the mass itself may not add anything new to this specific and rather peculiar subset of classical music, it is made to have a profound effect on an emotional level. Sad yet beautiful, this is a piece that will lead to many thoughts and many tears. The DVD ends with a classical piece for guitar and orchestra, an energetic composition with some neat folk tinges to it in the second half, and while the filming of this particular effort is low-tech - hence it's listing as a bonus feature on the cover I guess – the musical itself is intriguing and captivating.
Conclusion. The musical contents of this DVD are all of high quality. In terms of musical merits alone this production is well worth getting, as long as sacral and classical music are topics of interest. But as a DVD experience the quality of the video footage is way below the professional standards expected today. Good editing can't make up for the low resolution and deficient color balance. If the music is what is most important to you and you're fond of the genres explored on this venture, this disc is a good purchase and one that you'll probably listen to over and over again. If you're looking for a DVD experience, you'll most likely find this effort lacking on too many levels, hence the overall rating.
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