MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
2007 NEW YEAR'S CONCERT
SERGIU CELIBIDACHE in Rehearsal and Performance
Pierre Boulez has been conducting music of Mahler for four decades (including a remarkable Symphony No. 8 with the BBC Symphony in 1975 available briefly on CD). In recent years he has recorded six of the symphonies including a recent Resurrection with the Vienna Philharmonic (see REVIEW). To celebrate the conductor's eightieth birthday March 26, 2005, Daniel Barenboim (who can be seen in the audience) invited him to Berlin for a series of events called Homage to Pierre Boulez featuring him both as composer and conductor, including this performance of Symphony No. 2 recorded March 26-27 in Berlin's Philharmonie. It is fascinating to watch Boulez conduct—totally expressionless, barely a drop of perspiration, but obviously in total command. Audience response is adulatory; only at this point does Boulez break into a smile. It is a sterile performance of remarkable detail but little emotion, far removed from the drama and impact of Bernard Haitink's magnificent Concertgebouw performance of December 25, 1984 (see REVIEW).
Zubin Mehta has enjoyed a long association with the Vienna Philharmonic. He made his debut with them June 11, 1961 and since has conducted 170 concerts (plus a number of recordings) including three previous New Year's Concerts. This latest is a total delight including several works never before presented on the series. Mehta obviously is having a great time and he conducts the entire program without score. As a bonus, the DVD includes ballet filmed sequences of Dynamiden and An der schönen blauen Donau with soloists and the Vienna State Opera Ballet. The 5.1 surround sound is as good as it gets, and this DVD, for whatever reason, is budget-priced as DVDs go.
Legendary conductor Sergiu Celebidache is featured on Euroarts' DVD, rehearsing and performing with the SWR Stuttgart Radio Orchestra. The meticulous rehearsal of Till Eulenspiegel dates from 1965. After this we see the performance, apparently given in a small studio (it appears there are only about six rows of seats). Scheherazade dates from 1982, a studio performance filmed in color without an audience. This is the longest Scheherazade I've ever heard, and one of the most boring as well. Till was photographed in black and white, the Rimsky-Korsakov in color. Stereo sound is adequate for the time, but not exceptional. The reason to acquire this DVD is to view Celebidache's rehearsal and performance of Till.
R.E.B. (May 2007)