Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Europa Konzert From Lisbon / Pierre Boulez Maria Joao Pires Berliner Philharmoniker|
Actors: Berliner Philharmoniker, Maria Joao Pires, Pierre Boulez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Pierre Boulez enjoys excellent reputation as one of the greatest Bartók conductors ever and Maria Joăo Pires is one of the most soughtafter Mozart pianists. Together they perform at a spectacular location ? the World Herit... more »
The Best 'Europa-Konzert' Yet!
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every year since 1991 the Berlin Philharmonic has given a 'Europa-Konzert' ('European Concert') in a major European city to commemorate the founding of the orchestra. The 2003 concert was in Lisbon, Portugal, at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Monastery of St. Heironymus), a gorgeous group of buildings of golden hue built by a Portuguese king to honor the discoveries of Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama. I've seen several DVDs of these concerts and this one, led by Pierre Boulez, is the best one yet. The program plays to Boulez's strengths, namely his ability to delineate form, line and instrumental color, and both the orchestra and the piano soloist, Maria João Pires, are in topmost form.
The program consists of Ravel's 'Le Tombeau de Couperin,' Mozart's D Minor Piano Concerto, K. 466, and Bartók's 'Concerto for Orchestra'--three favorites well-loved by general audiences and cognoscenti alike. It's almost as if the program had been chosen to spotlight the BPO's extraordinarily talented principal oboist, Albrecht Mayer, as he does yeoman duty here, especially in the Ravel and Bartók, as well as in the encore, 'Fêtes' from Debussy's 'Trois Nocturnes.' Indeed, every department of the orchestra stands out, but it is the BPO's winds who are featured most prominently in this repertoire. The sound captured by the technicians is worth comment. It is rich and full, and in spite of a bit of cathedral acoustic with a moderately long decay-time, the inner voices and contrapuntal lines are crystal clear, even in the fastest passages. The monastery's acoustic, indeed, envelops the orchestra's sound in a warmth that is sometimes not heard in Boulez's often ultra-clinical-sounding recordings. Frankly, I liked it a lot, because we get the best of both worlds--clarity along with refulgent sound, the latter matching the glow of the monastery's rich interior.
This is one of the best performances of 'Tombeau de Couperin' I've ever heard. You have to hear Mayer's breathtaking presto in the opening theme to believe it. The overall shape and tempi are marvelously judged by Boulez. When I got to the end of the fourth movement, the Rigaudon, I simply had to go back immediately and hear the whole thing again.
Pires, a patrician pianist, is simply superb in the Mozart. Absolutely the only quibble I would have with her performance is at one point towards the end of the first movement cadenza when she suddenly speeds up as she approaches the cadence. I suspect this was because she had slowed down a bit to enjoy and elaborate the felicities of the admittedly marvelous cadenza Beethoven wrote for his predecessor's concerto. But it was a bit of a shock when she suddenly seemed to be racing for the gate. Nonetheless, her phrasing, utter control of dynamics, ease of technique made this a performance to treasure. She made the languorous middle movement, with its dramatic middle section, sound almost proto-Romantic, just as it should. The Rondo finale is joyous.
All of the 'Concerto for Orchestra' was superb, from the mysterious half-tones of the first and third movements, to the drollery of the 'Giuoco delle coppie' of the second and the Lehar quotation in the fourth, and of course oboist Mayer was to the fore again in that movement's main theme. The energy of the fifth movement was brought off by a precision that only great orchestras can manage. One of my acid tests for this movement is at the very end when the lower instruments of the orchestra rush upwards in parallel chords underneath an almost desperate upper-instrument melody. Most orchestras subdue that undercurrent, but the BPO and Boulez brought it out, emphasizing the mania inherent in this coda. Bravo!
Extras: PCM stereo/Dolby digital 5.1/DTS 5.1 sound. English, German, French subtitles (only available for the narration of the bonus features). A collection of still photographs of the orchestra during rehearsals in the monastery. A very nicely done documentary about Lisbon, featuring not only tourist sights, but also musical aspects of the city, including an illuminating focus on fado, the classic Portuguese popular song.
Francisco Yanez Calvino | Santiago de Compostela, GALIZA, Spain. | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
I've listened all the "Europa Concerts" on DVD and I can really say this is my favourite together with the 1997 one conducted by Daniel Barenboim in Versailles (Paris), with an outstanding performance of Beethoven's "Eroica".
First of all this is a concert played in Lisbon, the charming, romantic and atmospheric capital city of Portugal, which I know very well. I've been at least four times in the monastery where the concert is played and recorded and I always wandered about a great concert like this in that place. Finally I can watch/listen it, even it's on DVD and the sensation is really fantastic, as the place gives lot of possibilities from the acoustic point of view (but very difficult to record; it's OK on this DVD) and because of the great church the Jeronimos is. Of course it could be much more appropriated for religious music, but even son, it's fine, great.
Having a beautiful place like this you only need a good orchestra and a great conductor to have the perfect day, and that's this case.
Berliner Philharmoniker is an outstanding orchestra, in my opinion best one in the world, as you can listen in this recording. They can adapt their style to Mozart, Ravel and Bartók with no problem, like the own Tchaikovsky told about the Berliner orchestra one century ago.
Those who didn't know very much about Boulez could be surprised by the fact of he conducts Mozart's Concerto for Piano in D minor (one of my favourites) on this DVD. Of course it's not the first time and Mr. Boulez has a long tradition in it, from the times he conducted the complete Mozart Pianos Concertos in Paris with Loriod. His Mozart, like all Boulez versions, is very clear, analytic, well balanced, clean and well done in classical style, without the "dust" of two centuries of romantic Mozart. Pires is a little more romantic in her style than Boulez, but they have great understanding and performs a wonderful interpretation, better than I could imagine.
Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin is a charming piece Boulez knows very, very well, as you can hear in his two recordings (CBS and more recently DG, with the Cleveland Orchestra). The performance we can listen here (Barenboim conducts this piece with Berlin too in Europa Concert 1997) is outstanding clearly and probably the best I know on CD or DVD. The Berliners play amazingly well and Boulez make another very clear version in which you can here everything perfectly and full of French taste. Everything is so light, well done and charming like in his two recordings, or like in the concert in which I listened this piece to him in Paris, 1997. The difference is now the orchestra, because having Berlin gives a plus to this performance. What a woodwind players!!!
Last piece is Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, another outstanding performance, probably the one I love much more together with Riccardo Chailly (Decca). I prefer even this performance more than Boulez's one with Chicago (DG), which in my opinion has any problem and, even being very perfect from the technical point of view, doesn't work so great like his other Bartok's performances. Solti (Decca), Reiner RCA) or Fricsay (DG) could be another possibilities.
This performance is fresh and very strong, something difficult to do, but possible on Boulez's hands, that analyse all to the minimum and that give more folk and Hungarian taste than in his previous recordings. It's like Boulez becomes more free in his style in the last years, and not so "cold" like he was in years before. All the five parts of the concerto are jewels in this performance and the visual part give the best in order to make this DVD a wonder. The way the image is shot in the Third movement, for example, is marvellous, as the camera rise close to the columns in an atmosphere of mystery and emotion.
The visual part is marvellous and one of the most beautiful DVDs I've ever watched, because of the place, of course, but because of the way the church is illuminated and the shots done.
The sound is very, very good and gives you the sensation of being there, even with a little echo typical of churches like that. Anyway, it's not the echo you can listen in Europa Concert 1992 in El Escorial (Madrid, Spain), that is really too much, because of the giant church in which it's recorded).
Some extras shows another releases of this wonderful label.
A must have.
A French Reading of the Pieces
BLee | HK | 03/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is in fact the 19th European Concerts by BPO, a most world famous orchestra. It has now become a tradition that these concerts would either take the orchestra and as such, the viewers to various exotic sights of Europe, or at least playing exotic music from different part of Europe or else music with a particular theme. They are all fabulous. And I recommend this DVD for a number of reasons.
(1) For most of the previous concerts, we see Abbado wielding the baton. He is Italian, and essentially a pianist. This time it is different. We have basically a French composer as the conductor. The sense of balance and treatment are all different. Needless to say, this time we have some French music. I used to think I have had enough of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra even when I was young. Well, now the music is read in a new light and is given a French touch. I don't find the accoustics of the cathedral special save and except that as a whole, the performance (specially the strings) reminds us very much of Furtwangler. All in all, the sensation is different.
(2) On this occasion, we have A French composer conducting BPO, playing some wonderful music in a 500 years old Portugual Cathedral. It is quite a sensation. The building, which occupies about 1/5 of the camera work, is particularly charming with the the special lighting. The photography is excellent in capturing its beauty. Moreover, on this occasion we have Boulez, BPO and Pires, and in the audience we also have the President of Portugul and all the VIPs of the country lighting up this Catheral.
(3) For pianists with relativey small hands, there is another point of attraction. Pires' hands, like Larrocha's aren't massive at all and yet both are fairly and squarely great pianists of the century. From this performance we can have sight and a better idea of her system, things like her hand positions, fingerings etc and it is amazing to see how well she copes with things, a point of special value for those who grumble for not having massive hands. And in case you find the sound different, you have to take into consideration of the fact that the piano she used here is a Yamaha: Something is of interest enough to Yamaha fans itself.
... So, how can you miss it?
The Great Soul of Mozart
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 06/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was attracted to this because I had not seen any other DVDs of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.
Not only did this prove to be a fine recording of the Bartok, but I was also dazzled by the artistry of pianist Maria Joao Pires. As she performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No.20 with recurring smiles of beatific enjoyment, we get to see Mozart's playfulness in a dialog between the piano and the orchestra. It almost made me imagine the Great Soul of Mozart was sitting there on the piano bench, revelling in his conversation between the piano and orchestra.
Those familiar with the film will recognize the signature theme of Amadeus, as they enjoy the flawless hand-crossovers essential to playing the middle movement, Romance.
Just for the performance of the Mozart alone OR the Bartok, this DVD would be richly worth it. It has both, as well as Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Debussy's Fétes, equally well-done.
Please don't hesitate to add this to your collection and to share it with your friends."