BEETHOVEN: Nine Symphonies
Myrtó Papatinasiu, soprano; Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano; Burkhard
Fritz, tenor; Gerald Finley, bass-baritone; Netherlands Radio Choir/Royal
Concertgebouw Orch/Iván Fischer, cond.RCOA LIVE 3 separete disks
in a boxed set. TT: 381:55
NOW FROM AMAZON
BEETHOVEN: Excerps from Prometheus. LISZT: Prometheus.
SCRIABIN: Prometheus. NONO: Hölderlin from Prometheus.
Martha Argerich, piano. Vocal soloists. Solistenchor Freiburg. Berliner
Singakademie. Berlin Philharmnic Orch/Claudio Abbado, cond.
EUROARTS DVD TT: 57:00
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STRAVINSKY: The Firebird - Choreographed by James Kudelka
- A Film by Barbara Willis Weete.
Greta Hodgkinson (The Frebird). Aleksandar Antonijevic (Prince Ivan).
Rebeka Rimsay (Princess Vasilisa). Rex Harrington (Kastchei), Victor
Bertram (Kastchei's Wife). Mariinsky Orch/Valery Gergiev, cond.
EUROARTS DVD TT: 53 min.
NOW FROM AMAZO
The Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (since 1988 the Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra) has made many commercial recordings of Beethoven symphonies
as well as numerous live performances. . Commercially they recorded
all nine with Bernard
for Philips in the late '80's. . A complete set of live
performances with Wolfgang Sawallisch was recorded for EMI during
during concerts in the early '90's. Wolfgang Sawallisch previously had
recorded Symphonies 5 and 6 for Philips in 1960, and
No. 7 in 1961. Don't overlook the rare
live 1950 performance of Symphony No. 1 conducted by Furtwängler
(his only Amsterdam appearance), and Josef Krips' recorded Symphony No.
4 for DECCA in 1958, just now reissues.
. Of intense interest is the set of live performances conducted by Willem
during a 1940 Beethoven festival (all available on Pristine Classical).
Earlier, he also made 78 rpm recordings of all of the symphonies except
Nos. 2, 7 and 9.
Now we hav e this new set of all nine with Iván Fischer in live performances
in the Concertgebouw. Fischer already has superb recordings of Symphonies
4, 6 and 7 with the Budapest
for some years
he has been
music director.This new set offers live performances taken from concerts
in March 2013 and January/February 2915. The brief DVD notes (in English,
French and Dutch) talk of Iván Fischer's deep devotion to Beethoven.
His interpretations are clean and crisp, and the RCOA plays beautifully
for him. For whatever reason, the conductor has elected to use a rather
small orchestra (except for Symphony No. 9). I notice many unfamiliar
faces in the many close-ups, and there seem to be more women players
than usual in this fine orchestra; this is not stated in any negative
way. . Although this is a premium-price package, there is only one
copy of the program notes (in the first box); obviously the intent
is that those interested will purchase the entire set—they do
not seem to be available singly at this time. My favorite video of
the Beethoven symphonies remains the remarkable Claudio Abbado/Berlin
In May 1992 a special concert was presented in Berlin's Philharmonie
devoted to Prometheus exploring the myth by programming
music of four composers in an elaborate visal presentation. Claudio
Berlin Philharmonic with Martha Argerich as soloist in Scriabin's Prometheus,
and vocal soloists in excerpts from Nono's music for Prometheus.
This is a film directed by Christopher Swann, and we cannot tell just
the Philharmonie audience saw, as scenes from the concert are interrupted
by visuals. As the orchestra is playing excerpts from Beethven's music
for Prometheus we see images the Prometheus myth with explanatory
subtitles. It seems during the concert there were many colored light
some of which we can see. The major work is Scriabin's masterpiece
with Martha Argerich a magnificent soloist (playing with score in front
of her). Liszt's symphonic poem is given similar treatment. We have
only four excerpts (fortunately!) from Nono's music for the subject
featuring the vocal soloists.and a few instruments. This is typical
Nono, abstract and dissonant to the extreme. It rather reminds me of
a Carol Burnett skit in which four non-musicians perform a parody on
contemporary music. In some way this program made for television is
intriguing, but the overall effect is rather pretentious. And who wants
to view performers via colored filters? This video was released by
Arthaus in 2007; the new issue is a Blu-Ray version.
The entire concert also
is available on Sony CDs, where one does not have to experience the
visuals. Some might wish to have this simply for Argerich's performance
of the Scriabin, the best I've ever years.
The high point of this filmed version of The Firebird is that in it
the Firebird actually does seem to fly. This is a new version of Stravinsky's
masterpiece performed by outstanding leading dancers of of the Canadian
National Ballet choreographed by James Kudelka for a TV film by Barbara
Willis Weet issued in 2003; this is its first appearance
on DVD. The stereo soundtrack features the early Valery Gergiev/Mariinsky
Orchestra Philips recording. There is single unelaborate set with numerous
white-brnched trees. Colored lights help the illusion, but this is
not a Firebird to remember. For the real thing, try the Gergiev/Mariinsky
version on Bel Air (REVIEW).
R.E.B. (MAY 2015)
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