Another fine edition of this great series. More like this,
L. Chisholm | Denton, TX United States | 08/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
1hr 58min.; Color; stereo; nice big booklet about Leinsdorf, and both compositions; spoken in German, but with English, French, Spanish subtitles; concert from 1989.
Richard Wagner: "Parsifal"
This DVD is of rehearsal material, along with a complete performance. I think overall, people will either like Leinsdorf's minimalist conducting style or they wont. I happen to appreciate someone that is not full of ego reactions and mindless exhibitionism just for the sake of 'showing' how much you are into the music. There is something to be said of simply letting the music speak for itself on its own terms.
The rehearsal, even though the complete performance is of overtures and transition music lasting 40 min., is entirely from the Good Friday Spell (I assume it is because the audience knows that music better than the other material) and is about 20 min. of footage. Leinsdorf speaks quite a bit in these excerpts. He spends time talking about the context of the music to what is happening in the story of the opera; history; and balance of instruments. I had to stand up and cheer when he talked of the aesthetics of tempo in relation to the hall you play in: if a hall has much reverb, you play slower to hear the notes and texture; if the hall has a quick reverb, you play faster. It's amazing how many musicians, even many top tier artists, do not realize this simple concept!
After the rehearsal, we get the full performance. While it may not be Berliner, Wiener, New York, it is still magnificent. Full of piety and sincerity from the orchestra, it was deeply moving. There were no disappointments.
Robert Schumann: Symphony #4
This is the first version of the symphony (from 1841) that was favored by Johannes Brahms, and was to be his Second Symphony. Schumann set it aside for many years, wrote two more symphonies, and reworked this composition and it became his Fourth Symphony.
The rehearsal is 23 min. and takes us through several movements. As with the Wagner, Leinsdorf talks history, balance, etc.--but this time he chastised some of the players for practicing during the rehearsal (paraphrase-'If you don't know it by now, you should not play.'). The basic thrust he emphasized here was lightness in playing. Now that I have heard this version, I think this one is more a Franz Schubert sound that Schumann had originally envisioned (think Schubert 'Unfinished' Symphony and you get the idea). I prefer, after hearing this version, the later so-called 'heavier' version that was more in line with a Wagner sound. It has much more of a cohesive structure, transitions are less awkward, instrumental balance is clearer, and above all else, it is simply a more inspired creative composition.
The performance was very good. Not as enthralling as the Wagner, probably because this symphony, especially this version, is a bit of an anti-climax after the emotionalism of music like "Parsifal." Perhaps this should have put first in the program. That is not to say it is bad or passive playing, just a notch lower: a bit more 'by the numbers'."