Search - Gala Concert from St. Petersburg / Anna Netrebko, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Mischa Maisky, Victor Tretyakov, Elisso Virsaladze, Yuri Temirkanov, Nikolai Alekseev, St. Petersburg Philharmonic on DVD
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is indeed a celebration of all that is wonderful in Russian music-making. The setting is Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg and the orchestra is one of the world's best, the St. Petersburg (formerly the Leningrad) Philharmonic. Leading it in some of the pieces is Yuri Temirkanov; other works are conducted by Nikolai Alekseev. The cast of soloists is particularly starry. Two of them - Eliso Virsaladze, piano, and Viktor Tretyakov, violin - are not particularly well-known outside Russia but they are true giants of their instruments. And rounding out the solo roster are the hot young soprano Anna Netrebko, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and cellist Mischa Maisky.
The concert opens with Shostakovich's Festive Overture. The Petersburg's deservedly acclaimed brass section shines here (as well as in the Rachmaninov Fanfare that closes the concert). This is followed by possibly the best performance I've ever heard of Saint-Saëns's Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, played with patrician elegance (and impeccable virtuosity) by Tretyakov. Then comes Ravel's Concerto for Left Hand with titanic pianist Eliso Virsaladze as soloist. I have raved about her before in two earlier CDs and hear nothing here to alter my opinion that she is one of the great pianists currently playing. (By the way, if you want to see my earlier reviews do an Amazon search on 'Wirssaladze' as that is how her name has been transliterated on those CDs.) Her performance is wonderful but frankly the orchestral accompaniment tends to lose its focus under Alekseev (something that often happens with this concerto, alas). The double bass and contrabassoon opening, however, is sterling.
Alekseev then follows with the exciting Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin. This must be for Russians what something like Rhapsody in Blue is for Americans -- and the Russian audience ate it up.
Anna Netrebko is a stunningly beautiful woman whose acting has been praised far and wide. Her voice is a beautiful instrument but there are times when it is not under perfect control. In 'Regnava nel silenzio' from Lucia di Lammermoor her coloratura is approximate and she has no trill. But in 'Musetta's Waltz' from La Bohème, which follows, she is thrilling. Hvorostovsky follows her with Yeletsky's aria from Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame and then a stunning 'O Carlo, ascolta' (Rodrigo's death scene) from Verdi's Don Carlo. He is in fabulous voice and both arias are greeted with huge cheers as, of course, Netrebko's had been.
For me, though, the best singer of the evening is cellist Mischa Maisky. He plays Respighi's not-often-heard Adagio con variazioni, Op. 133, followed by Bruch's Kol Nidrei. Maisky's tone is huge, his intensity reminds one of Rostropovich, and I admit that watching his thick workman's hands on the cello's fingerboard evokes for me something like awe. Maisky is a great musician as well as a great cellist. It's no wonder that Martha Argerich so often chooses to play chamber music with him. I'd never seen him perform live and I expect this is as close as I'll ever come. And these performances were worth the price of admission.
The concert concludes with Netrebko and Hvorostovsky singing the Silvio/Nedda duet from Pagliacci. Again, the acting is superb; the erotic attraction they are portraying is palpable. They sing well, too. The short Rachmaninov Fanfare concludes the program and the crowd expresses its appreciation with that peculiarly Russian gesture of rhythmic clapping. This was a wonderful concert and I understand their enthusiasm.
Great Concert (Ruined by Clumsy Camera Work)
Young Seok Park | Seoul, Korea | 11/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I had awaited this dvd to be released for a long time. As expected, the concert was wonderful with such great singers and soloists. It was great to watch Hvorostovsky sing, who is one of my favorite baritones. I bought this dvd mostly because of Misha Maisky, however. With such detail and passion, he plays Respighi's "Adagio con variazioni", Op. 133 and Bruch's "Kol Nidrei" so beautifully. I was mesmerized by his "true" music and sound he creates. But, watching the great performance wasn't as enjoyable as it shoud be because of the clumsy camera work. The camera distracts viewer's attention and is annoying becuase of too frequent close-ups on the cellist's face and showing unimportant parts of the orchestra even when the solo instrument is at its climax. The camera work is horrible in particular during Respighi's Adagio con variazioni is being played. The same problem is also at the end of Tretyakov's rendition of Saint-Saens's "Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso". The camera team should learn from other good examples: European Concert from Palermo featuring Gil Shaham and Sarah Chang's Spanish Night. In those concerts, the camera never fails to include the soloists throughout the whole performances unless they are not playing for a moment. Even though the concert deserves more than 5 stars, I have to cut 2 stars off because my favorite parts were ruined by the careless camera work.
The technical aspect of the dvd is superb. The sound format is DTS/DD 5.1 and PCM, the sound of which is so clear and rich. The vision is 16x9 enhanced."
A brief addendum to J Scott Morrison's review
vocal admirer | Boston, MA USA | 12/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been waiting for the US release of this DVD after seeing a clip from it on a cable arts channel many months ago, and it was worth waiting for. J Scott Morrison's review is right on target, and I'd just like to underline a few aspects. First, if you haven't seen Anna Netrebko before (or if you were put off by her MTV-like DVD, as I was), the Nedda/Silvio duet will astonish you. The passion is both vocal and visual, a real triumph of operatic art. Second, the assortment of pieces on the program is surprisingly interesting and diverse, one that I think will be pleasing to revisit often. Finally, a minor complaint: by the end of the DVD (in the duet), the picture and sound seemed slightly out-of-synch to me; I wonder if anyone else has noticed this? But the bottom line is: this is a wonderful disc, definitely five stars."
Cello virtuosity seldom seen and heard
Constantine A. Papas | 02/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gala concert performances usually celebatate anniversaries, and the artistic value and merit of the event, in the spirit of a festive occasion, may be unitentionally overlooked. Not on this DVD. All the artists perform to the highiest standards for which they are known. However, cellist Misha Maisky steals the show. His dark-color-varnished cello sings, and the intensity, darkness, fullness and emotion of the sound he pours out of this instrument it's breathtaking, and caresses your mind and heart to a dreaming abandon. The bond between this instrument and this artist is phenomenal and unique, and it deserves attention to quench one's curiosity. Well, there is a Cinderella story behind the cello Maisky's playing. He made his U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall, in 1973, with the Pittsburg Orchestra under the baton of William Steinberg. After the concert, a unknown man from the audience was so moved by Maisky's performance that he gave him as a gift the cello he's playing now: a priceless 1730s Domenico Montagnana cello! Montagnana's cellos are a little shorter and a little wider than the Stradivarius, and that may explain, according to the experts, the darker and fuller sound. If this gentle and sesitive soul could see this DVD, he would know one more time that his gift has matched Maisky's virtuosity to a heavenly perfection.
Constantine A. Papas"
Adrienne M. Bloom | Atlanta, GA | 07/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a simply fantastic concert. I recommend it to everyone. The singing is divine and the music too. Get a glass of champagne and sit in front of your TV, what a pleasure !"