Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|New Year's Concert at Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall St Petersburg |
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Barry J. James | Honolulu, Hawaii United States | 08/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When I checked the BelAir website I discovered that the Hector Berlioz item on this DVD `Harold in Italy' was not just the Finale (as noted on the DVD cover) but the entire work, I had to purchase the disk. For many years, the CD version by Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra with Tabea Zimmermann (viola soloist) has been a favorite of mine, and I have been looking for a DVD version for some time.
I went straight to this particular title and immediately found that while Yuri Bashmet is a good musician, his performance in this concert was not in the same class as Ms. Zimmermann. I was also amazed that, for a filmed concert, there was audience applause after the second movement. This was not just by a handful of concertgoers who did not know the work, but a significant portion of the audience. Mr. Bashmet's performance was certainly not one that warranted applause at that point. He tackled the next movement with more confidence and once again, to my utter amazement, the audience applauded. I think that some of the responsibility for this might have been that Valery Gergiev's pauses between movements were slightly longer than necessary. This is a work that needs to be listened to without significant interruption with each movement flowing on from the one before. Although the overall performance was not too bad, in terms of listening pleasure it was certainly a disappointment.
Moving on to other works on the program, the Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla was played as precisely and briskly as on the complete opera DVD by the same orchestra and conductor; which is to say somewhat faster than we are used to hearing it on the concert stage. I particularly enjoyed Liszt's Piano Concerto #2 (with Yefim Bronfman soloist), Verdi's Overture to La forza del destino and the Strauss Polka; but was disappointed with some of the other selections, as I prefer not to listen to short snippets of works that are more familiar in their entirety.
The booklet notes that the acoustic consultant for the new Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall was the same person responsible for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. This certainly contributes to the very good audio quality of this DVD.
A word needs to be said of the video direction by Chloé Perlemuter who seems to have very little talent or experience in directing concerts of this type. I thought Herbert von Karajan was bad with his hogging of the camera but at least when the Berlin Philharmonic played you were shown groups of instrumentalists in addition to the conductor. Ms. Perlemuter tried to get Valery Gergiev in almost every shot that is on the screen. If he doesn't fill the screen completely, he is almost always to be found in the center of the picture - somewhere. Camera vantage points were not chosen with regard to showing the musicians, most of whom are shown from the rear and too often arms, heads and instruments interfere or block the picture. It is perhaps unfortunate, considering how much camera time is spent on Mr. Gergiev, that his appearance seemed very untidy. Designer stubble is questionable on any person, but once that person is no longer young and the hair is gray, it just looks very unkempt. He reminded me of a `down-at-the-heels' street performer who had been given someone's discarded dress suit.
If it wasn't for the misplaced applause in the Berlioz I would be able to recommend this as an excellent disk to LISTEN to, however, I will continue to wait for other versions of the works I really wanted to see performed well, becoming available.