Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a video production of a performance on CD I reviewed very favorably in 28:4?though that release cited August 20th
as the last date of performance, and the timings are different in all but one movement. Whatever its origins, this video joins excellent EuroArts videos featuring Claudio Abbado conducting the Mahler Fifth (with this orchestra, 29:1) and the Mahler Ninth (29:2).
It?s a rare thing when the opening credits of a video catch one?s attention, but such is the case here: the chorus is shown assembling on a balcony above the orchestra as the composer?s name and that of
his composition appear on the screen; the female chorus members, dressed in white, arrive from both sides of the balcony, in front of the black-clad gentlemen. The image is quite striking. Striking, too, is the sound as the symphony opens: filling the soundstage, it is full-bodied and deep, with a greater presence and more natural instrumental definition than in the CD production (the video offers DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, and stereo options).
But, of course, all of this splendid attention to audio detail would be superfluous if the performance wasn?t worth the effort. That is certainly not the case here, and I?m even more impressed than I was after auditioning the CDs: it is quite inspiring to see so much concentration and passion enlisted in the cause of Mahler?s music. One interesting detail: the two vocal soloists arrive on stage during the hiatus between the first and second movements, so it would seem likely that Abbado honors Mahler?s request that there be a short interval between these two movements. I noted one oddity too: the phrase ?O glaube, Du wardst nicht umsonst geboren!?, normally sung by the soprano, is sung here by Ms. Larsson; Ms Gvazava sings the remainder of the solo (this is audible on the CD too, but I failed to detect it before).
The video production, directed by Michael Beyer, offers no surprises, but that is all to the good. There is the usual mixture of full orchestra, section, and individual images, alternating with those of the conductor. The only bit of artifice comes during the off-stage moments of the finale, when a sort of starry image of the lights in the hall replaces shots of the orchestra, and then dissolves to Abbado, head inclined, conducting the distant musicians. Abbado had only recently recovered from a major illness, but he is in fine fettle, graceful yet in command, and his handpicked orchestra responds superbly.
For those of us who can?t attend concerts as frequently as we would like, videos as carefully produced as this series of Mahler performances conducted by Mr. Abbado are the next best thing. In addition, they sometimes offer substantively different alternates to the performances by the same artists available on CD. This DVD offers no bonus features, but I think the concert speaks for itself.
FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in C minor "Resurrection" by Gustav Mahler
Anna Larsson (Alto),
Eteri Gvazava (Soprano)
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Written: 1888/1896; Germany
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