Search - Concert - Leonora Overture No. 3, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G Op. 58, Tristan und Isolde / Hans Knappertsbusch, Birgit Nilsson, Wilhelm Backhaus, Vienna Philharmonic on DVD

Concert -  Leonora Overture No. 3, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra  No. 4 in G Op. 58, Tristan und Isolde / Hans Knappertsbusch, Birgit Nilsson, Wilhelm Backhaus, Vienna Philharmonic
Concert - Leonora Overture No 3 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 4 in G Op 58 Tristan und Isolde / Hans Knappertsbusch Birgit Nilsson Wilhelm Backhaus Vienna Philharmonic
Actors: Knappertsbuch, Wiener Philharmoniker, Birgit Nilsson
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2003     1hr 21min

Knappertsbusch was undoubtedly one of the last of a generation of great German conductors, a ?Director of Music? in the best sense of the word. Knappertsbusch hated superficiality and showmanship on the rostrum; he general...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Knappertsbuch, Wiener Philharmoniker, Birgit Nilsson
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Tdk DVD Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/21/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)

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Movie Reviews

An Extraodinary Treasure!
o dubhthaigh | north rustico, pei, canada | 12/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Hans Knappertsbusch was, as the Amazon review indicates, one of the last Great Conductors, especially with the repertoires of Bruckner, Beethoven and Wagner. His personality as well as his remarkable spiritual grasp of music made him absolutely a commanding presence to the orchestras and the patrons of his time. He was ever his own man and even the Iron Fist of Nazi Germany could not make him buckle. He refused to cowtow to fascists of any stripe and for that reason alone will always remain a hero to Music itself.
The DVD herein presents Kna in a televised broadcast with one of his favourite orchestras. He never held much stock in rehearsal, preferring to work without a net to add that sense of spontaneity and danger to surrendering oneself to the confidences of Music. In this particular concert, he and the Vienna orchestra deliver magic and wonders!
His take on EROICA, is not at all magestic. Instead, the Overture opens with a sense of tragedy, that all is not as it might seem for an heroic figure. Anyone who has struggled to achieve anything in their life will know exactly what loss is also carried in victory.
Wilhelm Backhaus, the legendary pianist, delivers the Piano Concerto in G and the sympatico between Kna and Backhaus is a wonder to listen to. Backhaus was, seemingly, born at a piano, and born as well to play Beethoven. That German TV had the presence of mind to select this concert is an extraordinary testament to their artistic devotions. The concert finishes with Wagner and Birgit Nilsson, the finest Wagnerian soprano ever. And what a performance from Tristan and Isolde! Absolutely sublime!
This is a treasure! The sound is remarkable, given the state of recording in 1962. Kna's twilight was arising and he must have had a sense of Time running. His Parsifal and his Ring cycle from these last years were as good as opera gets. Years later on the seminal detective series, "Inspector Morse" on PBS television, the Wgner pieces most often quoted in scoring that series were Knappertsbusch. Fittingly, Morse, as a character, had much in common with Knappertsbusch: a refusal to follow norms for the sheer sake of following them, a belief in his own intellectual prowess, and a conviction that in the moment of spontaneity, like minded souls rose to the occasion. There was also that element fo tragedy that Kna found inside the score itself that required no other embellishment than an honest and disciplined and committed articulation from the artist. This DVD is a treasure for the human soul who seeks ever and always to be true. We owe the producers at ORF a tremendous debt of gratitude for releasing this extraordinary concert by extraordinary artists."
Wonderful Music
S. Evans | San Francisco, CA | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"More and more, I think what separates Kna from others is that he's all about the music. So you won't see a lot of motion from him - you see, he's concentrating on bringing out the best of the music, not on how he looks to the audience. So for a true musician (such as myself), he's a refreshing alternative to the show-off conductors. If you listen to Kna, what you'll hear is close to what the composer intended.

The Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto is a case in point. The soloist, Backhaus, is in great form at 78, and the orchestra and piano are melded in such a way that all you hear is Beethoven. This piece has such a sublime, spiritual tone and you won't find that better realized than here.

The Prelude to Tristan und Isolde is simply amazing. Almost never do you hear a cello section that is so sure of these notes. This is concentrated, committed music making all around, and there's an almost unbearable intensity in this prelude which is exactly what Wagner intended. The rest of the orchestra is equally superb. Having seen Nilsson live many times performing this same excerpt, this is a treat to have a memento of her superb and superhuman Isolde. She cuts through the orchestral tuttis with no strain whatsoever, and she spins out this line beautifully in the longer passages. Remember that with Kna, you are always playing at a slower tempo, so it's much more difficult to sing (they have to breathe at some point, after all!) Again, this is all about capturing the music and the intensity of the story.

Now, with all that praise out of the way, this IS a live performance. There are some missed notes in the orchestra, a few slightly rough patches here and there. But that's to be expected. Also, there are moments when the camera is off - in the wonderful viola section solo in the Rondo of the Beethoven Piano Concerto, the camera is focusing on the winds who are all resting! But as an historic document, this is invaluable - showing the restrained and understated manner of a great conductor of the past."
Beautifully clear picture, and very good mono sound: a treat
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 08/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"TDK should be commended for releasing this rare video document of Hans Knappertsbusch and the Vienna Philharmonic from a May, 1962 concert. The picture quality is very good, black and white and full screen. I had heard of Hans Knappertsbusch for years, being familiar with him from a Decca LP of Brahms' ACADEMIC FESTIVAL OVERTURE, TRAGIC OVERTURE, and VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF HAYDN with the Vienna Philharmonic. I knew he was a great Wagner conductor, having recorded the RING cycle. However, I had never SEEN Mr. Knappertsbusch until this video. He looks gaunt, thin and elderly, but conducts with great authority and precision. The Vienna Philharmonic follow his every move with great precision and teamwork, and this is a treat to watch. The concert begins with Beethoven's LEONORE OVERTURE 3. Then, pianist Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969), age 78 when this was filmed, performs Beethoven's PIANO CONCERTO NO. 4 IN G MAJOR with the orchestra. Backhaus' playing is so beautiful, so effortless, it makes one forget how difficult this music is to play. Backhaus was a Beethoven specialist, having recorded all 32 Sonatas for Decca (once in mono, and later in stereo) and the 5 Piano Concertos in the late 1950s with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and the Vienna Philharmonic for Decca, so he has special authority in Beethoven's Concerto. The concert concludes with Wagner: the Prelude and Liebestod from TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, with Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson.

Knappertsbusch is in firm control throughout the concert, but after the Beethoven Concerto and Wagner Liebestod, doesn't come back on stage, rather letting either soloist take the credit from the audience. I suspect he was a shy man, not liking public acclaim or credit.

I had read Knappertsbusch was not fond of rehearsing, or of long rehearsals, and preferred spontaneous music making to having everything rehearsed to the nnth degree, the opposite of say George Szell. This is a very interesting DVD, one I will watch again and again."
Sublime Indeed
BLee | HK | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yes, Nilsson is sublime and more so is Backhaus: it's simply poetic and majestic. One needs to ask himself if other than Wagner, Knappersbusch is equally superb with Beethoven.

The recording, both sound and sight, is acceptable. But it's far from the best, particularly when it was filmed in Vienna in 1962 at a time when we already have stereo recording.

For the piano, it's unmistakenly Backhaus. But for the orchestra, one could barely recognise that it is the Vienna Philharmonic and in any event, the hissing is rather strong.

As far as the photography of Backhaus is concerned, owing to the poor positions of the camera, for about half of the time we can only see part of his right hand ( i.e. the back of his right hand and the first knuckle) plus his profile. For the rest, it's a view of his back at about 50 degree from the air a bit to the right. So, again more often than not, we can only see his right hand. And what's more, the camera often wanders away from the instrument/section playing the theme and there is no exception for the piano: at one time, it would only casually cover it when it's playing the solo part couple of bars later; at another time, it simply wanders away a few bars before it finishes! There were occasions when the camera covers the members of the orchestra who were not playing at all!!

Nevertheless, we are grateful for what we have for giving us some important clues as to how this pianistic giant actually tamed his instrument. Well, the more you watch this DVD, the more you're convinced that no contempories could compare with Hofmann, Lhevinne, Rachmaninov & Backahus.