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The Pyongyang Concert - New York Philharmonic & Lorin Maazel [Blu-ray]
The Pyongyang Concert - New York Philharmonic Lorin Maazel
Actors: New York Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel
Director: Ayelet Heller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2008     2hr 39min

On February 26, 2008, the world watched as the New York Philharmonic gave the first performance by an American orchestra in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Those lucky enough to be present will never forget that...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: New York Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel
Director: Ayelet Heller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: International, Classical
Studio: Euroarts
Format: Blu-ray - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 39min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Enjoyable Historic Concert!
Y. Park | Seoul, Korea | 09/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a S. Korean, who has never been to N. Korea, I really enjoyed this concert and thought the event was meaningful and historic in a once-in-a-lifetime way. At the beginning, the N. Korean audience looked like rather nervous and uncomfortable but as time goes by, they seemed to open their hearts and to be free by the power of music. At the end of the concert, their ovation was almost endless as if they would never let the musicians go. Lorin Maazel, who later mentioned that he'd felt warmth and enthusiasm from the audience, kindly explains about each music he's going to play next with some short Korean sentences, which makes the audience laugh.

New York Phil played many different works including Richard Wagner: Lohengrin, Prelude to Act III; Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No.9 in E minor "From the New World; George Gershwin: An American in Paris; George Bizet: Farandole from L'Arlesienne Suite No.2; Leonard Bernstein: Candide, Overture; Traditional: Arirang. I thought New World Symphony in Pyongyang makes sense and liked the long version (maybe too long?) of the Korean traditional music "Arirang", which was appropriate to play at the end.

Along with the flawless concert, the hi-def documentary "Americans in Pyongyang" is very interesting and enjoyable to watch. You will be able to peek some aspects of N. Korea and people's lives there.

Technically, this EuroArts's very first blu-ray is a bit disappointing, however. The concert was shot in 1080i and AVC coded but birates are around only 10mbps, which means more compression was made than most other blu-rays whose bitates are usually between 20-30. I don't understand why only one layer (25B) was used to include both the concert and the documentary in hi-def. The feature of trailors is available but actually you cannot see them (the click button doesn't work). The audio is excellent with PCM 5.1 and 2.0. A 36 page booklet included.

All in all, this blu-ray is definitely worth getting to enjoy not only the great musical performances but also the historical moments happened in Pyongyang, the last place isolated in the world."
Music conquers over politics
Johnny | Fla. | 02/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The repertoire was not the best, but the opportunity to view this historic concert makes this DVD worth the purchase price and more. It is a rare glimpse into this closed society and of how music definitely is a universal language. Congrats to all involved in making this concert happen and in making it avalable to all those of us who will most likely never get a chance to visit Pyongyang. Image and sound were very good so the viewing experience is most satisfying. Enjoyed the special feature almost as much as the concert itself, although it makes it very evident that brainwashing is alive and well in North Korea. Sadly, North Koreans seem terrified to speak (like the beauty who could not utter a single word when interviewed) and those music students who dared to speak made it a point to say that they could learn nothing new from the visiting musicians because their teachers were just as good. Really sad."
NY Phil Takes Pyongyang!
Roger Kennedy | 10/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Going perhaps further than any UN drive during the Korean War, the NY Phil takes Pyongyang for a few days. Not sure what was the reason for why this event was organized. Certainly it was a big publicity event for the orchestra which was touring in the Far East anyway and decided to add the North Korean capital to its concert list. The event is certainly not without interest. The concert certainly contains very well known and popular classical music, with interesting overtones for the audience it was being played for. Obviously the North Korean Minders did not see anything wrong with the music selection with its distinct homage to American culture.

The concert has all the standard elements of a well thought out program. The opening national anthems with both flags on stage really does set the tone for the event. This is followed by the Wagner Overture which serves as a good warm-up for the main pieces that follow. Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and Gershwins's "American in Paris" certainly have strong American connections and it is interesting to watch the North Korean audience react to the music. This is a well dressed, party member elite for sure, and it is surprising that the Dear Leader himself was not present but perhaps that would have made things too political! Do those people really enjoy the music or are their stone cold expressions merely a tolerence for it! This is hard to say. Lorin Maazel tries to be engaging, and he certainly appears more animated than at many of the concerts he conducted in NYC over the years! This is certainly a nice feather in his cap, and an important farewell statement before he hands the orchestra over to a new, and younger Alan Gilbert.

The audience finally comes a bit to life with the encore music. In particular the Korean Folk Music set to ochestra seems to move those solid expressions somewhat! The final appluase seems pretty impressive. These reserved and repressed people took a whole evening of music to finally feel some emotion. But emotion it seems to be, and even members of the orchestra felt impressed by it.

The extra features highlighting NY Phils visit to North Korean is perhaps the best part of the video. This 50 minute extra discusses some of the preperation that was involved, and provides interesting views of Pyongyang. The orchestra was treated to an impressive meal, and given a show of Korean culture, or propaganda depending on how you look at it! No doubt all the food and lighting was quite a sacrefice for the slender resources of this nation.

The concert master was invited to the central North Korean Music center and allowed to interract with some of the students there. This was interesting as the hesitation and strictly scripted responses was quite evident. This is a closed society, and in lieu of this its surprising that Western Classical Music is even considered as a national prestige item. While technically good in their interpretations of Classical Music its evident that these North Koreans lack exposure to performance technique and render somewhat robotic versions of the music. This is something one can note even with many Asian classical musicians in the West as well!

In general an historic event, well documented, with a good selection of well known classical pieces, and a very interesting look at one of the last truly closed dictatorships in the World. Worth having as an historic document of surprising emotion and interest."
Opening a closed door.
Richard R. Hays | Indiana, USA | 09/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I found this DVD stunning. Viewing this was an opportunity to enter a closed society. Naturally,the music is first class. I viewed all of the components. The camera views of the audience, filled with a very limited western population, were most wonderful to see, especially the colorful Korean traditional clothing worn by the women in the audience.

When the orchestra played our national anthem, I found myself standing with my hand over my heart. I have viewed this at least five times."