Absolutely Essential DVD
o dubhthaigh | north rustico, pei, canada | 05/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm so happy that this has been released. Sawallisch is not in good health, and he worked miracles in Philadelphia, without the benefit of a recording contract, and in spite of the contrary nature of too many orchestra players. Sawallisch was a master of Strauss and if you were ever lucky enough to catch any of his readings with the Phil O, you know this was as sublime as music could be. This performance on DVD is one of those especially brilliant moments when it all came together. It is also a great, great thing that the Rautavarra is reworked. The initial perfomance in Philadelphia, for which the symphony was commissioned, was flubbed in a couple of spots. There must have been some disappointment when Ondine opted for another reading from a different orchestra when this first appeared on CD. Leif Segerstam and the Helsinki Philarmonic created a brilliant disc.
Guess what? This is even better. In so many ways, having a second shot at it, perhaps living with it for a while, all seems to have given Philadelphia a much better handle on the nuances. There is the sentimental aspect too that this marvellous and gracious conductor is perhaps looking back on his life's journey as well.
Classical music owes Wolfgang Sawallisch a great deal of gratitude for all the grace and subtle power he brought to the repertoire he interpreted. This is as great a valedictory as any conductor could hope for, every bit as emotional as Knappertsbusch's final "Parsifal". This is beautifully shot and an awe-inspiring listen. I hope this is enough to get a record company back interested in Sawallisch's performances in Philadelphia. They were legendary and should be shared with the world."
One to return to!
Ian C. Punter | Thailand | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I fully concur with the previous reviewer's comments about this DVD.
I haven't SEEN Sawallisch conduct during the last 40 years, though I have had plenty of his work on disc in the meantime. I was fortunate enough to attend a few concerts he gave in Hamburg (with the NDR Orchestra I believe,) in the mid 60's when I was at university there.
Great repertoire, great conductor, sharing many of the same qualities as Kempe and Wand I would say. I was later to work on a BBCtv documentary about the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1976, though with Ormandy of course, so it was with keen anticipation that I bought this disc, and yes, it's sublime.
I have other symphonies (and operas) by Rautavaara, but the 8th was new to me, and it's still too new for me to say more than that it's a terrific 'listen', brilliantly played. I think Rautavaara must be among the best living writers for the orchestra.
The Strauss, in all honesty, is not one of his best works, and has been much ridiculed in the past for its banal depiction of the composer's 'household', - but for all that, there's much glorious music in it, and as I watched and listened to Sawallisch and the Philadelphia, my favourite criterion came into play: 'For the moment at least, I don't want to be watching or listening to anyone else playing anything else!'
Great sound, and straightforward and effective video direction. A fairly short but interesting interview with the conductor. It's certainly made me want to explore the other titles in this fascinating Cologne Triennale series!
Unlike some DVDs, one to return to! Don't hesitate.