BRÜMMER: Phrenos. Lizard Point. de la nuit. Thrill. Inferno
WERGO Edition ZKM WER 2059 5 DVD Audio/Video Rom TT: 100:09
Both of these DVD Audio disks are intriguing, puzzling—and disappointing
all at the same time!
The Shostakovich DVD gives the listener a choice of 5.1 surround
sound or two high resolution stereo channels, but on my player
(Rotel RDV 1080) there was no way to make a choice; it defaulted
to the surround
sound—fortunately. The initial screen picture identifies music
on the DVD: Symphonies 5 and 6. The next screen lists both symphonies
and you indicate which you wish to hear. When you select Symphony
No. 5 (or No. 6) you can then select which movement you wish to
hear, or you can begin with the first and all will be played consecutively.
As the music is playing we see on-screen a color line drawing of
of Symphony No. 5, the
of conductor Caetani), and the music is then heard.
Sinfonica de Milano Giuseppe Verdi was formed in 1993.
Chailly is now the Music Director and has made several recordings
with the orchestra, most recently a Verdi collection (see REVIEW).
The orchestra plays in Milan's new Auditorium which reportedly
has fine acoustics and this is where the Shostakovich recording
was made before an audience. Conductor Oleg Caetani is the son
of Igor Markevich, one of the leading conductors of the past
studied with Nadia Boulanger, won various competitions, has
conducted quite extensively in both
opera house and concert hall, and has just been
appointed Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony. His recordings
Donizetti's Poliuto (with Ricciarelli,
opera albums with Carreras and Caballé, and Mahler's Symphony
2 with "The Robert Schumann Philharmonic." These performances
of two Shostakovich symphonies are long on introspection and short
on drive, with undistinguished orchestral playing. Surely the
finale of Symphony No. 5 needs more thrust than heard here, and
6 is in
The orchestra sounds rather small; it sounded bigger on Chailly's
Decca recordings. It also was better recorded. Gian Andrea Lodovici
was producer of these live recordings made in 2001 and 2002 respectively,
with Michael Seberich as sound engineer. The "surround sound"
heard on this DVD is impressive in its thundering, impactful
bass, but balances are askew, with little definition to strings—they
as if they are swimming in a sea of resonance. There's a very
broad rather distant sound perspective except that the xylophone
is very close-up. All in all, not a very satisfying listening
experience, either in performance or sonics.
The other DVD is an oddity: electro-acoustic, or musique concrete,
"composed" via computer by German-born (1958) Ludger
Brümmer for multi-channel listening
now, through DVD Audio, it's possible to experience it the way
it was written (there are only four channels, left/right, front/back).
There are five "compositions": Phrenos,
Lizard Point, de la nuit, Thrill, and ad Inferno der Stille.
These are not brief works: playing times respectively are 18:44,
19:49 and 23:31 for a total of more than 100 minutes. Bits and
pieces of standard music are occasionally included (although virtually
unrecognizable). Brünner has worked with German choreographer Silke
Braemer many times and on this DVD there are her videos for two
of the works: Lizard Point and Thrill (which
she identifies as Le
temps s'ouvre). In these, as the music is heard, there are
varied episodes of a bouncing tire, a woman running, a man splashing
two dancers in various poses and many imaginative computer-created
images, some in color, others black-and-white. While there is technical
information about the compositional process, little is said about
the intent or meaning of what is heard here. Neither the "music" nor
the images mean much to me, but if you're interested in this sort
this intriguing. From a sound standpoint there are some awesome
"outer space" sounds that will test your surround sound
system, particularly in the lower frequencies.
R.E.B. (January 2004)
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