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Waldbuhne In Berlin 2009 / Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic [Blu-ray]

Tchaikovsky / Bronfman / Bpo / Rattle
Release Date: 06/29/2010 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2057754  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskySergei RachmaninovIgor Stravinsky
Performer:  Yefim Bronfman
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Note: This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players.

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TCHAIKOVSKY The Nutcracker: Overture; Christmas Tree; March; Pas de deux. RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3. 1 STRAVINSKY Le sacre du printemps. LINCKE Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Frau Luna: Berliner Luft Sir Simon Rattle, cond; Yefim Bronfman (pn); 1 Berlin PO MEDICI ARTS 2057758 (DVD: 104:00) Live: Waldbühne, Berlin 6/21/2009


This open-air summer concert was apparently predestined for video release, as it came from the Waldbühne in June to my DVD player in December of the same year. Apparently, the weather was ugly—storm clouds presaging the arrival of heavy rains—but the concert bore no trace of weather-fright. Praised by German critics for re-establishing precision to the Berlin forces, Simon Rattle nevertheless forsakes the weightier orchestral tone of his German predecessors. In the tradition of famed British conductors before him (Beecham, Boult, Sargent, and Britten), Rattle prefers a leaner, more transparent sound, which he has over the years invested with an ever-growing interpretive skill.


On the podium, he appears to be a happy conductor, all smiles and light gestures. Occasionally he stops beating time to bask in the fine sound of the massed forces. In a lesser talent I might see this as an affectation, but for Rattle it is as much an expression of his essentially sunny temperament as his joy in music-making. In common with many conductors who perform Nutcracker excerpts in concert, his tempos are a shade too fast, which makes for invigorating listening but would drive a dancer to despair. On the other hand, the elfin touch he brings to the musically pedantic and often dark Rachmaninoff Third completely transforms this concerto. Neither for him nor pianist Bronfman the darkly brooding, almost menacing quality that Vladimir Horowitz brought out in what is surely one of his few truly great recordings (the 1930 performance with Albert Coates); even the descending chromatics in the first movement are handled with a sense of momentary shadow that dissolves into the shards of a brightly lit rainbow. Bronfman, sensing the feel of Rattle’s interpretation, likewise shades the music with melancholy but does not dwell on it. In the end, a fairly mundane piece is thus transformed into a play of light and dark that congeals into a remarkably pleasing whole. I must also disagree with those German critics who, trying to be cute, dub the pianist “Bronfman the Brontosaurus” and suggest that he crushes the keyboard. As powerful as several passages are, Bronfman has an offsetting delicacy of touch. I’m not sure if other critics hear his closer affinity to Gilels (and, to my ears, Lipatti, who could play more powerfully than we choose to remember) than to real keyboard-crushers like Horowitz or Richter at their most excessive. I for one hear it as a breath of fresh air. The last movement practically explodes in a riot of colors, like a piñata at Cinco de Mayo.


Lightness of touch and unaccustomed airiness also mark Rattle’s version of Sacre. In his hands, it bears a closer resemblance to Debussy’s Ibéria than to the earthier interpretations of Kent Nagano, Valery Gergiev, or Stravinsky’s own 1929 recording. In a way it reminds me of Richard Krauss’s conducting of Strauss’s Elektra, but even a bit lighter. I’m not sure that, overall, it is appropriate, but it certainly is interesting. By lightening the timbre, Rattle elicits all manner of detail often obscured, and plays with the rhythm. What it lacks in raw power is compensated for by a shimmer of color. Different ears may disagree with me.


I was absolutely thrilled to see not only the size of the crowd—even with the threat of thunderstorms, every nook and cranny of the Waldbühne was packed—but also its casual look and age diversity. I’m sure that several hundred of these listeners can’t usually afford the Philharmonie prices for the indoor concerts, but here they were, picnic baskets and Tupperware containers filled with salads and other goodies, not only enjoying the music but really getting into it. Even when the rains came and the darkness settled, during part II of Sacre, they stuck around, and at the end, there were a lot of happy smiles, whistles, and cheers, especially during the encore piece Berliner luft. Granted, the age diversity didn’t include a great many 20-somethings, but some were there nonetheless. This is a good sign; I only hope they weren’t all music students. Considering the phlegmatic weather conditions, the sound engineers outdid themselves. For the Rachmaninoff Third alone, highly recommended.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley [reviewing the standard DVD version]


-------------------------------

I played this new Blu-ray DVD on a 42-inch plasma Panasonic HD TV with matching Panasonic Blu-ray DVD player; I listened to the audio through the TV speakers, then through my Harbeth external speakers and then through my BOSE headphones.

First, the vision: amazing colour and definition. The tracking shots over the Waldbühne audience showed the people in distinct relief; proving that 3D TV is just a nod away – that is if 3D is really necessary now? Passing shots across the orchestra are equally revealing in that the music seen over performers’ shoulders is quite clear and often easily readable. The audio is equally impressive: all the instruments harmonics are crystal clear, the Philharmoniker’s strings’ silken sheen and the subtleties of the horns can be enjoyed to the full. While I am not one to think I need visuals to enjoy a concert - I often close my eyes in a concert hall - I do appreciate the opportunity to learn and appreciate the composers’ orchestrations. I am thinking here, especially, of the Stravinsky; it is, for me, instructive to note how he uses the woodwinds to such striking effect.

To the music. It is interesting to note how things have changed at the Berliner Philharmoniker since the departure of Karajan who as the album’s notes-writer, Wolfgang Stähr, observes “was a master of the extreme legato with little appreciation of the constant changes of time signature and complex metres of Stravinsky’s score”. Conversely, Rattle is “in his element with Stravinsky’s Russian rhythms.” This is indeed a winning and revealing performance with Rattle fully in command of this exciting music.

Tchaikovsky’s lovely ballet music for The Nutcracker forms a welcome relief to all Stravinsky’s barbaric utterances. The main item on the programme is the daunting Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Stähr’s notes include a rather unflattering comment about the soloist Yefim Bronfman made by the American writer, Philip Roth, which I will not repeat here. Bronfman is a thick-set gentleman who attacks this music, bear-like, with spirit and tenacity. That does not mean to say that his playing lacks delicacy. He is articulate and he generates much excitement particularly in that emotionally-charged finale but in the end there is something missing, a lack of expressive involvement. For a truly committed performance of this work turn to Horowitz or Argerich.

A rich concert-hall experience.

-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International

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Waldbühne in Berlin 2009
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 (excerpts)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
Igor Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps

Yefim Bronfman, piano
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Rattle, conductor

Recorded live at the Waldbühne, Berlin, 21 June 2009.

Picture format: 1080i Full-HD
Sound format: PCM Stereo 2.0 and 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 104 mins
No. of Discs: 1
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Works on This Recording

1.
Nutcracker, Op. 71: Excerpt(s) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 30 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Yefim Bronfman (Piano)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; Russia 
3.
Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 

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