Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Daniel Barenboim - Live from MusikTriennale Koln|
Actors: Chicago Symphony Orchestra Elisabete Matos, Carli El firulete Boulez Notations IżIV, Falla El sombrero de tres picos Pierre Boulez Debussy La Mer
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A fine performance of Debussy and de Falla
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 07/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD presents a nice program of 20th Century works not ordinarily associated with Daniel Barenboim. It is a film of a concert recorded live 25-27 April 2000 at the Philharmonie Cologne. First on the program is Notations I-IV by Pierre Boulez. Four short works from a cycle of piano works begun in 1945 and now transcribed for full orchestra. They reveal a master's touch for sonority and visceral orchestral effects. The entire length of the piece is less than 15 minutes and the influence of Webern is everywhere apparent. It is beautifully played and the orchestra appear to enjoy themselves in this gnarled and astringent music. As it is contemporary music and Boulez is definitely an acquired taste, some will find it difficult listening. It is quite short, however. A lyrical yet probing performance of Debussy's La Mer follows. It is an expansive and solid rendition forgoing the gauzy impressionism in which many conductors envelop Debussy's music. The superb horns of the Chicago Orchestra really shine. They offer a powerful performance, especially in the forceful and stormy third and final movement. La Mer has already been well served on DVD. There is an excellent performance available on an EuroArts DVD featuring Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. De Falla performances on DVD are a comparative rarity, at least thus far.
Last on the disc (other than a short encore) is what may hold some of the audience for this DVD most in its sway: an exciting performance of Manuel de Falla's El sombrero de tres picos with Elisabete Matos as the mezzo-soprano. It is a rendition that conjured up (at least for me: perhaps because I lived in Spain for awhile and found it a beautiful yet ultimately enigmatic country) many favorite Romantic notions about Iberia: the mysteries of mist enshrouded Andalusia, of Granada and the beautiful Alhambra, of Seville under a hot sun. Of course, this music is contrived by de Falla to do just that. This is one of the finer versions of this atmospheric and inventive piece that I've heard. Every featured instrument has its moment in the limelight. The percussion and horns I thought particularly thrilling. I played this piece several times in succession. The disc includes as a bonus an intelligent and revealing 20 minute interview of Boulez by Barenboim. As an encore, a short Spanish dance El firulete by Jose Carli fittingly concludes this splendid DVD.
The picture format is NTSC 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. It looks crystal clear. Sound formats are PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround sound. All are clear with the surround formats providing a nice spatial matrix for the instruments and good reflective rear ambiance. The region code is 0 worldwide. Running time of the disc (including bonus) is 110 minutes.
A wonderful concert highlighted by an excellent de Falla performance makes this DVD worthy of serious consideration. Most strongly recommended.
The Mercedes of Orchestras
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 07/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Say what you will about Daniel Barenboim's tenure, just ending, as music director of the Chicago Symphony, the orchestra is in extraordinarily fine shape -- better, I'd venture, than when he took it over seventeen years ago. This concert, recorded at the Cologne Triennial in 2000 shows us their marvelous estate six years ago, and also shows us that some of the old faces are gone. It is a thrill, though, to see that August 'Bud' Herseth is still in the principal trumpet chair and plays, as always, like an angel. Other familiar principals from over the years, such as concertmaster Samuel Magad, hornist Dale Clevenger, clarinetist Larry Combs are in evidence but there are a lot of new faces. The Chicago brass section has often been called the world's best and I wouldn't argue with that. They have also been derided as too brash; that certainly is not in evidence here. The strings are more deeply silken than ever, a real improvement in my estimation. But it is the woodwinds that kept getting my attention, not surprising considering the repertoire on show here -- Debussy's 'La Mer', de Falla's 'Three-Cornered Hat' and Boulez's knotty but resplendent 'Notations I-IV.'
Boulez is not my cup of tea but one has to hand it to Barenboim and the Chicagoans. They play his gnarly music as if it is in their blood -- and indeed in the appended conversation between Barenboim and Boulez there is mention of how important it is to play contemporary music repeatedly so that the individual musicians can feel in their bones what comes next and not have to strain for it. I'm sure there are those who find the Notations exciting, but I don't. I find them interesting, I find myself gaping at the skill of the musicians involved, but they don't speak to me other than with their fitfully interesting sonorities.
'La Mer', on the other hand, is one of the cornerstones of 20th-century music. Although the Chicago is not particularly known for its affinity for French music, they play 'La Mer' with great feeling, great flexibility and almost superhuman éclat. Barenboim shapes a marvelous, subtle performance. Unlike the previous reviewer, who put his vote in for the 'Three-Cornered Hat' as the highlight of the DVD, I'll stick with 'La Mer.' What a fabulous performance! I immediately played it again before going on to the de Falla. Once again I must applaud the magnificent playing of Bud Herseth. Even more so, I am struck by the beauty of the playing of the principal flutist, Mathieu Dufour, who had joined the orchestra only the year before and has come in for near-universal acclaim for his lovely tone and his musicianship. This is one of the best performances of 'La Mer' I've ever heard. To be able to see it, too, is an added delight. Camerawork is musically apt and unobtrusive. Sound throughout is clear as a bell and very lifelike. The Kölner Philharmonie must be an acoustically fine space.
Having cast my vote for 'La Mer' I must go on to say that this is indeed an exciting performance of De Falla's best-loved work. I really can't add much to what previous reviwer Mike Birman wrote. It IS exciting, it IS infectious, it IS wonderfully played. Mezzo Elisabete Matos is fine and certainly has the Spanish flair called for. Please read Birman's comments for more information about this performance.
I have not always been the greatest fan of Barenboim's conducting. But I find nothing here to argue with. It is all we could ask for.
I bought this for the Boulez and love it
D. Mills | Silly Valley, CA | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superbly produced collection culled from CSO performances in Cologne in April 2000. Three of us have reviewed this disc and have come away with distinctly different highlights. Since the other reviewers have covered the romantic music played on this disc, I'll confine myself to the late 20th century aspects.
Pierre Boulez' Notations I-IV are from 1978. In the 1950s, as Boulez was emerging as a composer, he favored somewhat cryptic, often difficult composition. Over time he seemed to loosen up both as a composer and conductor, giving his music a more rhythmic, effervescent quality than that found in his earlier work. Daniel Barenboim takes a ripe, sonorous approach which is a godsend when presenting Boulez' rhythmic, sometimes dense sounds. The Chicago Symphony plays with ease, so one can concentrate on the musical experience rather than the technical aspects of getting the score across.
Debussy's 'La Mer' is a prime example of musical impressionism, loved by some. I'm not one of them, but I do enjoy hearing it for its novel use of orchestral timbre. For me, the composition had always been of interest for what it inspired in work of the Vienna School (Berg/Schoenberg/Webern), and there's rich sonority aplenty in Barenboim's approach.
For those who want to pursue the 20th century modern aspects of this disc, don't miss picking up the audio CD of Barenboim and the CSO doing Schoenberg's 'Verklarte Nacht' and 'Five Pieces for Orchestra' (Op. 16), the latter of which is a cornerstone of 20th Century music. If the Boulez is your cup of tea, a good companion to this release is the DVD of the composer rehearsing Notations I-IV with the Vienna Philharmonic ('Boulez in Rehearsal'). It also features Alban Berg's 'Three Pieces for Orchestra' and will delight aficionados of Vienna school 20th century repertoire."