Energy and Vitality in Musical Action
fCh | GMT-5, USA | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD comes generously packaged with Gergiev conducting the Rotterdam PO in Stravinsky's "Fireworks" and "Piano Concerto," Debussy's "Le Martyre De Saint Sebastien" and Prokofiev's "Scythian Suite." These are real gems of interpretation: nuanced yet forceful, capturing the essence behind the notes and exuding engaging energy. For those viewers equally interested in the making of music, along the tortuous paths of meaning and music, a real treat is Gergiev's rehearsing the "Scythian Suite." Of particular relevance I found how the Ossetian Gergiev traces (some of) his people's roots back to the Scythians. Consequently, his interpretation of the meaning behind Prokofiev's music, as we listen to the music or to Gergiev talking to the orchestra members, takes on a special dimension.Great camera work and sound. This DVD goes above and beyond the usual rehearsal sessions we see expedited in 1-hour chunks from "Image Entertainment." It approaches art!"
Engaging music making
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 03/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Rotterdam Philharmonic have a wonderfully powerful sound, it is a bit gritty(that's interesting and good),and hard-edged, and its not due to the modernist showcase here. It is a sound I believe that is cultivated at all levels of the instrumental cadre. Gergiev is quite an engaging live wire, deeply probing the war-like narrative of Prokofiev's "Scythian Suite" at many levels. This was a ballet that Diaghliev requested and was never produced by him. Gergiev certainly knows the performing problems, the Prokofiev aesthetic. "This piece has been played too loud, which is why it was not good, and never had a history. . ." Here I'm paraphrasing. We learn that loud is not always real loud or super loud, that to play Prokofiev what needs to be acknowledge are the gradations of dynamics.Instrumental colour as well with celesta and piano and harp to help punctuate the plucked strings or the bombastic brass. ". . . this is an army that I think is going to win. . .". Gergiev says) So they need to have this spirit imparted through the music notes." . . . trombones the last chord should be like, you go, you go, you go, and the last one you kill. . . " a bit more." Short asides also point to Gergiev intense deep knowledge of the music, that Prokofiev was mindful of how far Stravinsky had mover. "This music is about mysticism, energy and power, and colour. . . ". Prokofiev looked backwards to narratives and histories of Mother Russia as was the times,it is a way to see if anything changes, and indeed no. National persuasions was always part of culture yesterday and today. War is still a vibrant lucrative business.
I found the Stravinsky "Piano Concerto" less intense, although after the opening dirge-like gesture it takes off in a wild frenzy of asymmetrical rhythmic dialogues with the piano obviously the winner take all here. This is a neoclassic work and Gergiev's temperment seems to draw too much from the piece, going after phrases and many times affirming the power of the music, something if left alone would happen anyway. The piano soloist Alexander Toradze accomodated this off-center vision of the work. There should be a bit of cool restrain I think to all this neo-classic period, a mannered gestural phase that looked backwards. Also "Fireworks" is an early immature work a stepping stones to a larger massive places of "Firebird" and "Le sacre", and "Petrouska".
The Debussy was well played as well, nothing too challenging save for the balanced timbre and the deep lyricism. Debussy was much into plainchant simple melos, and again Rotterdam makes a seemless timbre, a sound you are simply drawn towards, escaping into the sound."
Kelly L. Norman | Plymouth, MI United States | 03/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's almost a bit of sadness in seeing this DVD now, knowing that Valery Gergiev will be leaving the Rotterdam Philharmonic (one of his million or so orchestras) next year. Because one thing that comes across: this man and this band love to work together, and work together well.
I admit it, someone could release a DVD of Gergiev just talking and I'd think it was wonderful, so you know my bias. (Actually, he doesn't even need to talk, now that I think about it.) But happily for you, dear reader, he does soooooo much more than that on this particular DVD, including 1) telling us a lot about Prokofiev and a little about Stravinsky (Prokofiev's son is aboard); 2) teaching amusingly and well--(a particular part of the Scythian Suite is a chance to personify the orchestra as soldier; "You take your sword and slash, slash...kill." ); and 3) conducting impeccably.
The music here is not bad; even the Debussy, which isn't Gergiev's strong suit, comes off pretty well. But the Prokofiev is the best. Gergiev reminds us that he is descended from the Scythians, who somehow ended up in Caucasia having come from Persia. Makes sense; if anyone fits the description of perpetual soldier, it's Gergiev, plodding off from one concert after the other, to HQ in St. Petersburg to bolster the Mariinsky."