WALDBUHNE 2005 "French Night"
BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture. DEBUSSY: Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun. POULENC: Concerto for Two Pianos. SAINT-SAËNS: Carnival of the Animals. DUKAS: The Sorcerer's Apprentice. RAVEL: Bolero. General Dance from Daphnis and Chloe. SATIE: Gymnopedie No. 1.
Katia & Marielle Lebeque, pianos. Berlin Philharmonic Orch / Sir Simon Rattle, cond.
EUROARTS DVD 2054378 TT: 90 min.
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BOITO: Mefistofele
San Francisco Opera production of 1989 with Samuel Ramey in the title role and Gabriela Benackova (Helena / Margheurita), Dennis O'Neill (Faust), Judith Christin (Marta), Emily Manhart (Pantalis), Daniel Harper (Wagner), Douglas Wensch (Nereo). San Francisco Opera Choruws and Orchestra / Maurizio Arena, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD TT: 160 min. STEREO
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MARIN - An Animated Fantasy. AXEL - A Portrait Film
OUR RECORDINGS 2.110426 (one DVD, one SACD)
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This 2005 Waldbühne Concert has now been reissued and if you missed it the first time, check it out now. It is an all-French program with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic with the Labeque sisters playing their two showpieces, Poulenc's D minor concerto and Carnival of the Animals. The high-spirited program also includes other favorites and ends with the Waldbühn staple, Paul Lincke's Berliner Luft, which involves the huge audience in a delightful way. Performances are terrific, photography excellent, the stereo audio totally satisfying. This was a great night in Germany's famous outdoor theater. Don' t miss it! And if you particularly enjoy the Labeque sisters, you can see them performing both of these works with Semyin Bychkov and the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna's outdoor Summer Night 2016 concert (REVIEW).

This 1989 Mefistofele is another re-release, and it is an outstanding success. Samuel Ramey stars in one of his most impressive roles, looking particularly sardonic in this colorful production staged by Robert Carsen. Gabriela Benackova sings the two leading soprano roles. This was an exciting night at the opera, with a thrilling conclusion beautifully sung by the large choruses. Excellent video, and satisfying stereo audio are other pluses. The accompanying booklet disappoints. It is difficult to understand why producers didn't provide a printed list of the entire cast, and inexcusable for them not to provided a printed track list.

Danish-born composer Axel Borup-Jorgensen (1924-2012) was a prolific composer on the Nordic musical scene. He was respected during his time, and recognized as a leader in the world of new music. He wrote for orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, and his scores are complex. He had his own sound world, and he had a passionate almost mystical regard for nature. Much of his music is subdued, almost silent. The SACD in this set contains Marin, Op.60, a 19 minute work considered to be his masterpiece. This is played by the Danish National Symphony directed by Thomas Sondegard. Then we hear the 13=minute Music for Percussion and Viola (Tim Fredenksen/Percurama Percussion Ensemble), Für Cembalo and Organ, Op. 133 (Mahan Esfahani/ Jens,. E. Christiansen), Nachtstück, Op. 118. (Elisabet Selin, recorder), Winter Pieces, Op. 30b (Erik K Kaltoft, piano), Pergolato, Op. 183 *(Michala Petri, recorder), and Coast of Sirens, Op. 100 for flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, cello, piano, percussion and "multi voice tape."with the Arhus Sinfonietta conducted by Soren Kinch Hansen. I imagine most listeners (including myself) will find little of interest in this music. The DVD features a fantasy animation of Marin created by Lückow Film and an international team of animators directed by Morten Bartholdy.The film represents symbols of the forces in the human subconscious, without a narrative, to be interpreted by the viewer. AXEL is a documentary about the composer's life and music and includes interviews and performances by some of the artists heard on the CD. A challenging issue, for sure; a major addition to the catalog of music by this composer.'

R.E.B. (January 2018)