Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|European Concert From Istanbul|
Actors: The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Mariss Jansons, Emmanuel Pahud
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's European Concerts not only represent the Berlin Philharmonic's commemoration of its founding date but also emphasize the cultural life of the new European order. Each year the orchestra ... more »
Berlin Philharmonic/Mariss Jansons Concert LIVE in Istanbul
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is of a live 2001 concert that was one in a series the Berlin Philharmonic has been doing, one concert per year in a European city of historic importance. It took place in the historic Church of St. Irene in Istanbul before a rapt cosmopolitan audience. It features the orchestra under the marvelous Latvian conductor, Mariss Jansons, who first burst onto the international scene perhaps twenty-five years ago with his recording of the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies with the Oslo Philharmonic. He has since been the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and just recently became chief conductor of the Bayerische Rundfunks Orchester in Munich. I well recall hearing him conduct music of Sibelius with the Royal Concertgebouw at the Barbican in London--one of my all-time great concert-going experiences.
The program consists of the 'Surprise' Symphony of Haydn (Symphony No. 94 in G major), the Mozart Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 312 featuring the current poster-boy of flutists, Emmanuel Pahud, and a sizzling Berlioz 'Symphonie Fantastique.' The Philharmonic is in top form and this is a very satisfying concert indeed. Pahud, who not only has movie-star good looks but has a huge tone and sophisticated musicality, plays the Mozart dazzlingly. The Haydn features some of the most impressive pianissimi one could ever hear from an orchestra. And the 'surprise' in the second movement does indeed surprise because of the dynamic contrast.
But the star of the show is Berlioz's symphony. The Philharmonic had been reduced to chamber size for the two earlier pieces, but here the whole compliment of this large orchestra is crammed into the raised area at the front of this ancient church. There was no room for the two harpists and so they are placed in front of the orchestra at audience level and practically in the laps of the first row of concertgoers; they are actually behind the conductor. This works well when one considers the prominent role they play in the symphony, particularly the 'Un Bal' movement, but it looks a little strange in the last movement in which they don't play at all and have to just sit there idly while more or less still in the spotlight. No matter. This performance is simply stunning. Jansons conducts an extremely subtle performance and the Berliners give him everything he wants. The 'Marche aux supplice' and 'Songe d'une nuit de Sabbat' are incredibly exciting. One interesting touch is that the oboe that echoes the marvelous English horn solo in the 'Scene aux champs' is stationed in a rear balcony which appears to be as much as 100 yards away. Talk about antiphonal effects!
The camerawork is creative. There is a good deal of focus on the musical instruments and their players with a minimum of attention paid to the conductor himself. I appreciated this particularly remembering how the old Karajan/BPO videos tended to focus so much on the conductor as to make them seem a vanity project. Sound is superb stereo.
There is no booklet included with the DVD, no great loss and perhaps it was simply overlooked in DVD that I received. I certainly didn't miss it. There are two extras - a short backstage feature that shows musicians and technicians as they prepare for the concert and a very nicely done 20 minute feature about Istanbul itself with an emphasis on musical activity in that beautiful city. One gets to see and hear a colorfully-costumed Janissary band playing the kind of music that took Europe by a storm in the 18th century (think of Mozart's 'Rondo alla turca), advanced string students at one of the three local European-style conservatoires playing a bit of the Debussy Quartet, and an ensemble of traditional instruments playing Turkish music. We also get a look inside Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, among other sights.
TT=104 mins for the concert, and 30 minutes for the 'extras'
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 04/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's very hard to improve upon Scott Morrison's review.
Let me just add a few of my own observations:
Morrison is "right on" about Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique being the star of the symphonic show. The positioning of the harps right up in front, helps their being heard better (and more dramatically) than in usual performances.
The scary scene of the witches' sabbath, painted so wonderfully in sound by Berlioz, is enhanced by a bolder use of the percussion section. This is especially fitting, as it was the Turks whose music brought to Europe cymbals and a greater emphasis on drums. Berlioz and the BPO have returned the favor with this performance in Istanbul.
Speaking of Istanbul, there is an extra included on this dvd--a tour of Istanbul. I thought I wouldn't like it--that it would be filler--but it takes you through the Great Bazaar. There are plenty of brightly-painted and guilded mosque-like buildings. They even include a mesmerizing scene of whirling dervishes--something few of us ever get to see in action.
PS: Emmanuel Pahud is dazzling in the Mozart Flute Concerto."