STRAUSS: Feuersnot
Nicola Beller (Diemut). Dietrich Henshgel (Kunrad). Alex Wawiloff ( Schweiker).Ruben Amoretti (Ortolf). Christine Knorren (Elsbeth). Chiara Fracasso ( Wigelis). Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro MassimoGabriele Ferro, cond.
ARTHAUYS MUSIK DVD TT: 113 min + 13 min bonus.
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BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano Concert No. 4 in G, Op.58. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor." Coriolan Overture, Op. 62.
Lausanne Chamnber Orch/Christian Zacharias, pianist-conductor
BEL AIR CLASSICS DVD (2 disks) TT: 193 min. + 52 min. bonus
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MAHLER : Symphony No. 9 in D minor. Symphony No. 10 (Adagoo)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orch/Paavo Järvi, cond.
C MAJOR DVD 729708 TT: 117 min., +17 min. bonus
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Feuersnot, Richard Strauss' second opera, was premiered in Dresden in 1901 and quite successful. The one-act opera has a libretto was by Erest von Woizoge, based on a Bavaria Midsummer Festival tradition of townsfolk making numerous bonfires and lovers are expected to leap through the flames. In the final scene, the famous" Love Scene," which sometimes is heard in concerts, the two lovers are united as they are surrounded by numerous "flames" characterized by long red silk scarfs and ribbons twirled by many dancers. All of this is quite colorful, and this performance is excellent indeed. But there is a good reason why Feuersnot is seldom presented. It is unmistakably Strauss, but except for the final scene, it is hardly memorable; Even the audience at this performance from 2014 was not particularly entusiastic. There is a single simple set showing the outside of a large building. The chorus plays an important part, and there also is a children's chorus, and a number of dancers, all grbed in colorful costumes. There usually are many people on stage, either members of the chorus or dancers, and all have very much to do.. Much of the stage action is intricate and imaginative; this must have required a great deal of rehearsal Video and audio are first-rate, and a complete libretto is supplied. An excellent performance of one of Strauss's minor masterpieces.

This is This is Chrischistian Zacharias's second complete recording of the Beethoven concertos. The first is of live performances in 1994 with the Suisse Romande Irchestra directed by Armind Jordant available on Cascavelle. Now we have this second set again live performances with the site's chamber orchestra this time from 2012 (Nos. 2, 3 and 4) and 20134 (Nos. 1 and 5/Overture) in Salle Metropole. Lausanne. In 1986 /Zacherias made an EMI recording of Concertos 4 and 5 with Dresden Staatskapelle led by Hans Vonk. On these new performances Zacharias is conductor as well as soloist; that is he conduct when his arms and fingers aren't occupied at the keyboard, and one wonders why he decided to do this. His playing is fastidious, clean and technically assured, but these are small-scale performances, quite lovely indeed, but not very exciting. The piano is placed so the pianist/conductor is facing the orchestra. Video is well-judged and basic, audio adequate but surely not "surround." This seems to be the only available SACD set of this music, although there are numerous issues of individual concertos. And of course, most collectors are familiar with the countless historic mono/stereo recordings. There are a number of other DVDs of this Beethoven piano concertos what shows the power of this msic in an addmirable way.

This site has mentioned a number of DVD issues in the Paavo Järvi/Frankfurt Radio Orchestra series: (Nos 1 amid 3 (REVIEW), and Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 (REVIEW). The series concludes now with Symphony No. 9 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10, both recorded in Kloster Eberbach church, not an ideal site although the engineers, as usual in this series, have captured the sound remarkably well. Video is equally fine, and often we can see numerous strong spotlights near the church's ceiling; it must have been a challenge for the superb orchestra to perform under these circumstances, but they are in top form. String playing throughout is pure, sensitive and always in tune; this is among Ute finest performances I've ever heard of the Adagio from Symphony 10. There is much of value in this entire series, worthy of investigation b all who love Mahler.

R.E.B. (June 2015)

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