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A Portrait [DVD Video]
A Portrait
DVD Video
Actor: Rafael Kubelik
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2007     5hr 4min



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Movie Details

Actor: Rafael Kubelik
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: DTS, Classical
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/14/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 5hr 4min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese

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Movie Reviews

Portrait of an often underrated conductor
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 09/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rafael Kubelik didn't arrive on the podium trailing clouds of glory like von Karajan or Leonard Bernstein. He seemed to just appear there, shyly and without fanfare. His 'bed hair' curling outward, making his head look like the letter w. His appearance and demeanor suggested that a timid, tentative performance was likely. Then he'd rip into a taut and crisp Eroica or an effervescent, crystalline Prague Symphony. The beauty of this two DVD set is that Kubelik does exactly that. He conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker in a lovely performance of Mozart's Symphony No.38 'Prague', filmed in January 1971. He conducts the Concertgebouw Orchestra in tasty performances of Beethoven's Leonore III and Symphony No.2 in D Major filmed in June 1969. Then we are treated to a tense, thoughtfully designed and constructed performance of the Beethoven Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major 'Eroica' featuring the Berliner Philharmoniker, filmed in March 1967. On the second disk, Kubelik again conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker, this time in the Bruckner Symphony No.4 in E-flat Major, in a performance that proves that Bruckner can be both epic AND bucolic. This performance is swift, urgent and insistent without losing Bruckner's expressiveness and extremely long-lined melodic logic. Kubelik's performance style falls somewhere between Jochum and Furtwangler. In fact, Kubelik generally shares many attributes of those two conductors: Furtwangler's rhythmic freedom or looseness coupled with Jochum's clear headed vision. In his choice of repertoire, he puts these traits to best use. Kubelik conducting the modern French composers would probably be less successful (though I'm not sure of that)!

Rounding out the second disc are two superb hour long documentaries. The first is a sort of biography of Kubelik entitled 'Scenes from a Musical Life'. The second is a fascinating rehearsal film of the Bruckner 4th. Kubelik seems to get his musical way quietly, based primarily on his musician's deep respect for his talent. That may be the crucial clue explaining Kubelik's success. Without being a martinet like Fritz Reiner or George Szell, he was still able to create that unanimity of performance vision that an orchestra must provide if an interpretation is truly to be great. That he was able to do so often and without much fanfare, indicates that he was a fine molder of orchestras without being a tyrant. Very rare!

All of the films have been remastered and look crisp and clear. The sound likewise, sounding especially spacious in the DTS 5.1 format. The PCM stereo is also quite clear. There is a slight thinness of sound due to the age of these recordings but there's nothing to be done about that without using artificial means, which would be unsatisfactory. The total length of the two discs is 304 minutes, more than 5 hours! There are the usual DGG languages, subtitles and catalogue films. Region code is 0 worldwide.

This two disc DVD set is a splendid introduction to (or a reminder of) what a fine, underrated conductor Rafael Kubelik was and the splendid music he produced so routinely. Strongly recommended.

Mike Birman"