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Discovering Masterpieces - Romantic Masterpieces

Romantic Masterpieces / Various
Release Date: 03/31/2009 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2057358  
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsAntonín DvorákFelix MendelssohnRobert Schumann
Performer:  Gil ShahamFrank-Michael ErbenMartha Argerich
Conductor:  Claudio AbbadoKurt MasurRiccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraLeipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DISCOVERING MASTERPIECES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC: ROMANTIC MASTERPIECES & Claudio Abbado, cond; 1,2 Kurt Masur, cond; 3 Riccardo Chailly, cond; 4 Gil Shaham (vn); 1 Frank-Michael Erben (vn); 3 Martha Argerich (pn); 4 Berlin PO; Read more class="SUPER12">1,2 Leipzig Gewandhaus O 3,4 MEDICI ARTS 2057358 (4 DVDs: 108:00 ) Live: Palermo 5/1/2002; 1,2 Leipzig 5/1997; 3 6/1,2/2006 4

BRAHMS Violin Concerto. 1 DVO?ÁK Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” 2 MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto. 3 SCHUMANN Piano Concerto 4

& Documentaries: 157:00

The performances in this collection were all filmed in concert and each is preceded by a substantial documentary in which an expert provides analysis and historical background on the music. The American musicologist Michael Beckerman offers somewhat livelier commentary on the Dvo?ák “New World” Symphony than his German colleagues in their discussions of the other works.

The Argerich/Chailly Schumann Concerto is the only performance here that was edited from two concerts. It’s also exceptionally good. The Schumann is one of Argerich’s specialties and in this knowing reading each phrase has the feeling of being a spontaneous emotional statement. Together with Chailly, she brings to life this often-heard masterpiece—there is no greater 19th-century piano concerto—with gentleness and elegance when required, along with the bravura that one expects from her. One small quibble is that, as I hear it, she consistently shortchanges the length of the fourth chord (the half note tied to an eighth) in the first movement’s opening theme. Chailly, a splendid conductor, provides sensitive support and leads a vital orchestral performance.

Claudio Abbado communicates a sense of joy in the Dvo?ák Symphony and it is given a dramatic and flexible performance by the Berlin Philharmonic in a gala concert given in Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, Europe’s third largest opera house. The Brahms Violin Concerto comes from the same concert and is given a strong, unaffected performance by Gil Shaham, sweat dripping onto his instrument from the start. In the documentary portion, he speaks eloquently about the great meaning that the piece has for him and for violinists in general, but I must confess that I have never been convinced of this Concerto’s “masterpiece” status. It just seems overlong, especially the first movement with its earnest struggles, and I sense the inhibiting presence of Brahms’s model, the Beethoven Violin Concerto, throughout. The most pleasure that I have had from this music happened unexpectedly during the film There Will Be Blood , where the gypsy music of the third movement’s opening blasts on the soundtrack when oil is first struck. I apologize for what is a personal (irrational?) blind spot, but, unfortunately, this very sensitive reading by Shaham and Abbado does not change my mind.

I have no such reservations about the sweet, scintillating Mendelssohn Concerto, a beautifully structured composition from start to finish. This performance by Frank-Michael Erben and Kurt Masur (reviewed in 31:4) is highly competent, and Erben plays with rich, if not terribly varied violin sound, but the music stays slightly earthbound. Erben’s passagework is a bit constrained by the bar lines, Masur’s accompaniment is a little square, and the players of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester do not appear as engaged here as they do under Chailly. I find no such drawbacks in the recent recording of the piece by Daniel Hope on DGG.

This nicely produced boxed set would be very useful for a music history class studying the Romantic period. The Mendelssohn and Schumann DVDs are also available singly from Medici Arts.

FANFARE: Paul Orgel

All performances preceded with introductions to the pieces performed.

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Languages: English, German, French, Spanish
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 157 mins (performances) + 108 mins (documentaries)
No. of DVDs: 4 (DVD 9)
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/01/2002 
Venue:  Teatro Massimo, Palermo 
Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 "From the New World" by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/01/2002 
Venue:  Teatro Massimo, Palermo 
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Frank-Michael Erben (Violin)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1997 
Venue:  Gewandhaus Leipzig 
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2006 
Venue:  Gewandhaus Leipzig 

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