Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Words rarely fail me. But I'm almost speechless with delight over this DVD of the Europa-Konzert (European Concert) given May 1, 2002 in the magnificent newly-restored Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily. Everything about it delights.
The Europa-Konzert is a Berlin Philharmonic tradition. Every May 1st they give a concert in some city in Europe to commemorate the founding of their orchestra on May Day 1882. Up to now the Lisbon Concert conducted by Pierre Boulez had been my favorite, but this one takes the prize. It is conducted by Claudio Abbado, and was the last one he conducted before he ended his twelve-year reign as music director of the orchestra. He had been through a major illness, and looks gaunt, although he sports a deep tan. There has always been something saintly about Abbado's appearance but that is enhanced here. And certainly one who knows his health problems is all the more tempted to give him some slack for sentimental reasons. But there is no reason to do that here. This is a superlative concert, both for the orchestra's playing and for Abbado's conception of the works presented.
The concert begins with an exciting performance of Beethoven's 'Egmont' Overture. And then Gil Shaham, surely one of the handful of really great violinists on the scene, plays the Brahms Violin Concerto. Rarely have I heard such a combination of technical ease and deeply musical expressivity in this thrice-familiar masterpiece. The Adagio is particularly moving. The long opening oboe solo, played by Albrecht Mayer, is meltingly beautiful; Shaham's playing here is ethereally haunting. There is no dearth of violinistic fireworks in the outer movements. This is then followed by a sublime reading of Dvorák's 'New World Symphony.' If I had to single out a section that moved me the most it would be that so-familiar second movement with its English horn solo playing what most of know as 'Going Home.' I was so impressed by the English hornist's playing that I went to the Berliner Philharmoniker website to find out his name so I could include it here: Dominik Wollenweber. Abbado chooses a slower than usual tempo for this movement and time seems to stand still. Without question this is the best performance of that movement that I've ever heard.
After a thunderous ovation from the Palermo audience, Abbado returns to the stage to lead an encore, the aptly chosen Overture to Verdi's 'Sicilian Vespers.'
A few other comments. In Abbado's tenure with the orchestra there was a huge turnover in personnel as many of Karajan's stalwarts retired. Seventy new musicians joined the orchestra while Abbado was there, most of them quite young. Emanuel Pahud, the new principal flutist, was only 23 when he joined, and of course he has now forged a huge career as a concertizing soloist as well. From the looks of it, Wollenweber couldn't be more than mid-twenties, but such playing! But the most notable thing is the incredible quality of the playing. This orchestra breathes together, performs with split-second synchronization that may be the best in the world, and with deep musicianship. Every serious music lover has a list of 'before I die I want to hear ...' list. Mine includes hearing the Berlin Philharmonic live in concert. What an orchestra!
Well, enough gushing, particularly for someone who started out saying he was lost for words. I don't often say this, but I urge anyone who loves great orchestral playing to get this DVD.
TT = 112 minutes. Sound formats include DD 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM stereo. Sound quality is excellent. Videography and direction for TV is crisp and inobtrusive. Extra: a very nice twenty minute documentary about Palermo, focusing primarily on the arts, architecture and music primarily.
Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic in Palermo...truly magnif
R. Nicholson | 11/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another fabulous DVD from Euroarts
This disc, featuring the Berlin Philharmonic Symphony (BPO), is one of a series that has been recorded in May of each year from various European locales (To commemorate the founding of the BPO on May 1, 1882). This recording, in 2002, is from the glorious Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily, with the BPO under the baton of Claudio Abbado.
The composers featured are the finest the 18th and 19th centuries had to offer; Beethoven (Egmont Overture), Brahms ( Violin concerto in D with Gil Shaham*), Drovak (Symphony # 9, From the New World) and Verdi (Sicilian Vespers)
Everything about this DVD is top notch...let me elaborate
The setting is sumptuous; the newly renovated (1997) Teatro Massimo is a show piece of consummate proportions. It has six levels of private wall lodges surrounding the entire outer edge of the main floor; this would make for spectacular, private viewing. The domed ceiling, with its hand painted, petal shaped design, is as much an attraction as the theater itself. How proud the people of Palermo must be of this magnificent structure.
The video is superbly done. There are close ups of individuals and instruments as well as panoramic views of the orchestra and also the inside of the theater itself. The editing reflects a knowledge of the music being played as evidenced by the switching of the camera to the most appropriate view; this was done with impeccable timing and great effect.
The audio: simply superb! Enough said.
The performance: As good as I could ever have hoped for; and what a bonus to have these 4 masterpieces on one DVD. It would be near impossible to pick one piece as the best on the disc; they are all that well done.
All in all, Euroarts has produced a recording that exemplifies why a DVD with its video capabilities, has so much more to offer than the same product with only an audio (CD). This recording would be great simply to listen to, but the video simply enhances the pleasure of viewing this wonderful recording. Highly recommended!
* Mr. Shaham plays the Countess Polignac Strad, built in 1699. It has, in my opinion, the finest sounding G and D strings I've ever heard on any Strad. (but then maybe it's the way Mr Shaham plays them)"
Best Concert Production I've Ever Seen
Randall R. Scott | St. Louis, Missouri | 08/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Europa-Konzert production, with the Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado conducting and Gil Shaham, guest violinist, is without a doubt the finest concert production I've ever seen, and Mr. Shaham's playing of the Brahm's concerto is absolutely mesmerizing. Surely there is no finer violinist in the world than Gil Shaham. The direction of the camera angles is perfect and the dynamics of the recording are superb. We actually can hear the "pppp" sections and there is no clipping at the "ffff" end. Finally, the venue -- the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily -- has to be about the most beautiful and inspiring concert hall in the world. In short, this DVD is a must -- an absolute must. There is much magic here."
Ovation to Gil Shaham and Abbado's Dvorak...
Young Seok Park | Seoul, Korea | 03/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After such a long awaiting, this dvd was finally released on NTSC. I bought this dvd mainly because of the vilolinist Gil Shaham and the great repertoire. I had never seen the Brahams' violin concert performed either on stage or any kind of video media. What a thrilling moment to watch Gil Shaham play was! He plays with all his passion and energy. He sweats tons of sweat like a river while he plays. To me, his rendition was just perfect with such hamonious accompaniment by the world's finest orchestra. It was a million dollar performance. I just hope I could see him perform in person sometime.
Abbado's rendition of Beethoven's "Egmont", one of my favorite overtures, was a bit disappointing. I think it was played a bit too lightly and fast. It was therefore not very dramatic and solemn to listen to as is supposed to be. However, "New World Symphony" was brilliant and magnificient. All movements were quite good. The 2nd movement was particularly impressive as previous reviewer mentioned. It was very lyrical and idyllic. The oboe sounded different and unique than any other players' I'd ever heard. Camera work was also great in this movement. It followed the atmosphere by using fade-in and -out. I liked the other movements too. Wind instruments couldn't sound better. I only wished the camera work had done as good as in 2nd movement.
all in all, this is one of the most collectible and enjoyable concert dvds. This really is worth owning. I am grateful for EuroArts, the finest production in the world. I've bought many dvds produced by EuroArt, which relieves my thirst for "quality" classical concert dvds. Bravo, keep up the good work, EuroArts!"