Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Valery Gergiev Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Prokofiev Schnittke Stravinsky|
Actors: Valery Gergiev, Yuri Bashmet
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
One of music's most sought-after conductors guides you through an outstanding concert of works. Internationally acclaimed as an inspired interpreter of Russian music, Valery Gergiev draws exceptional performances from th... more »
Top Notch DVD, but for different reasons
W. White | Chicago, IL | 09/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must say that this DVD is the crown jewel of my collection as well, but I think that the other reviewers on this site are pretty far off in their assessments.
For starters, a number of the opinions expressed here simply write off the Prokofiev performance. Perhaps this is a testament to how truly excellent the playing is. This piece may be the most deceptively difficult in the repertoire -- well played, it sounds like a facile piece of Mozart. This couldn't be further from the reality, however; the piece is intensely difficult. On this DVD, it serves as a real showcase for the VPO's talent. The woodwind playing is astonishingly crisp, the string sections operate with a machine-like unity, and the overall ensemble is unparalleled.
As for the opening tempo, I think I have a very logical explanation. To be sure, the first movement is taken a little on the slow side, but this is undoubtedly to balance the rip-roaring zippy fourth movement. This last movement is taken at a pace I've never heard and, somehow, it is the cleanest performance I have ever come across. Make no mistake: this is a very carefully rehearsed and well polished performance.
Here, I must take issue with the praise that other reviewers have lavished upon the Schnittke performance. I count myself among this composer's greatest fans (his name is tattooed in Cyrillic across my upper back), which is why I find Bashmet's "interpretation" lacking. He clearly feels very justified in taking a number of liberties with the score. He inserts several tempo changes in the second movement where none are indicated. For someone who knows the piece well, this really destroys the momentum. Bashmet's playing is impassioned to be sure, but often lacks precision. As for the VPO and Gergiev, it is a very difficult thing to judge. I'm not sure that the miking is properly done, and certain levels are often distorted to match what the picture on screen is. Anyone interested in this piece is encouraged to pick up Kim Kashkashian's recording on ECM. While still not 100% tight, it is a far more accurate rendition of what is surely one of Schnittke's finest pieces.
I can hardly disagree with anyone's account of the "Firebird" performance, however. This piece is surely a Gergiev specialty, and the orchestra's men really give him their finest efforts. The whole piece is well paced, though the final section in 7/4 time is taken just a tad faster than ordinarily heard.
As for Gergiev's conducting in general, I think this DVD really proves that a conductor can have a very non-standard technique and still be the real deal. The orchestra simply would not sound like this were it not for Gergiev's sharp ear and excellent command of these scores. There is an inner logic to his gestures -- just watch these performances enough, and you're sure to crack the code, just as the VPO's musicians have."
Outstanding concert, beautifully filmed
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 03/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Taped at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, this wonderful all-Russian concert shows conductor Valery Gergiev at his most magnetic, here with the Vienna Philharmonic. The whole program is excellent, but the prize is the Schnittke "Viola Concerto" (1985), performed with great intensity by its dedicatee, Yuri Bashmet.
The concerto uses Bashmet's name (B-flat, A, E-flat, C, B-natural, E-natural) as its starting point for forty minutes of music, filled with unusual effects and ending with a quiet, death-haunted passage that shows the violist at his absolute best. The music is strikingly conceived and just as strikingly performed, with the Vienna musicians seeming to relish the challenge of a relatively unfamiliar work.
The Prokofiev begins swiftly, and has a nice momentum throughout. (Although how the musicians follow Gergiev's fluttering hand movements is a mystery.) The Stravinsky will probably be the favorite of many viewers, with Gergiev in white-hot form and the orchestra doing a sensational job with the work's brilliant colors.
Brian Large has filmed all this with clarity and lots of attention to details, including the sweat dripping onto Bashmet's viola at the end of the Schnittke, and Gergiev's positively evil-looking gaze in passages of "The Firebird." Sound and picture quality are superb.
This is probably one of the best filmed classical concerts on the market at the moment, perhaps a model of how these should be done."
Awesome Performance of Schnittke!
W. White | 06/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit, I bought this DVD for the Schnittke, being a viola player myself. A performance of his work is pretty hard to come by and a DVD of this particular work makes it even better. After seeing this DVD, all I could say is WOW!Yuri Bashmet is without a doubt an amazing violist and seeing him playing a work that was written for him and also meant a great deal for him is truly special. I was moved by his performance and after seeing this performance it has given me even more appreciation for this piece. In my personal opinion, no other violist plays the Schnittke as well as Bashmet does. He plays this work with every ounce of emotion, feeling, and intensity in his body that makes the work sound very powerful, compelling and moving. Bashmet owns this piece! His lengthy interview also gave tremendous insight to his relationship with the composer and this great piece of music.The performances of the other pieces are quite good, in particular the Firebird. The camera work is also first rate with superb angles and impeccable timing. Truly a highly recommendable DVD."