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A Russian Night

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The first-ever concert DVD of pianist Hélène Grimaud in collaboration with conducting legend Claudio Abbado captures an unforgettable night at the Lucerne Festival 2008! The all-Russian program extends from Tchaikovsky's romantic lushness to Rachmaninoff's dramatics to the astringent musical tonic that is uniquely Stravinsky's. Grimaud and Abbado propound poetic and impactful interpretations through the recreative power of sterling musicianship with this unforgettable performance. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra numbers virtuoso instrumentalists from such distinguished entities as the Alban Berg and Hagen Quartets. DVD Extras include a rare Abbado on-camera interview.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Helene Grimaud, Claudio Abbado, The Lucerne Festival Orchestra
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (PCM Stereo), English (DTS 5.1), English (PCM Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2009
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002JVHEI4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,252 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have seen and greatly enjoyed all of the Abbado Lucerne Festival Concerts: this is no exception. I will not claim any sophisticated technical knowledge of classical music, though I have listened to it for over 50 years, and subjectively can only claim what I think is well done, and what is not. This concert is excellent and I am pleased to have it in my collection.
I have no objection at all to the Tchaikovsky. It is wonderfully interpreted and played. That it is an early piece is not to its discredit. In it you can hear the later Romeo and Juliet, and the Manfred Symphony themes for example. It is as well played as one can imagine and Tchaikovsky lovers will be happy to have this recording of it. The Rachmaninoff is brilliant and the Stravinsky very good.

I felt my appraisal justified when I saw Pierre Boulez in the audience clapping. Maurizio Pollini is also in the audience if you look closely and he is smiling and applauding too. I find that recommendation enough. I am sorry other reviewers did not think as highly of this concert, but along with Boulez and Pollini, I thought this was a wonderfully performed concert by one of the great orchestras and masters of our time. The audience appeared to think so too.
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This recording pairing the fine Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Abbado comes from 2008. The producer is Paul Smaczny as is often the case at this venue but the recording company marketing it is DGG rather than EuroArts or Smaczny's own company, Accentus. This may be a factor as regards the playback level described below. The concert program revisits two of Abbado's favourites previously recorded on DVD by Abbado with the BPO. They are the Tempest and the Firebird suite.

The concert opens with Tchaikovsky's Tempest which was a very popular work during Tchaikovsky's lifetime. Since then it has become overshadowed by similar works such as the fantasy overtures Romeo & Juliet, Francesca da Rimini and, to a lesser extent, Hamlet. The Tempest, however, is also a very fine work and well worth getting to know. The opening horn calls over rolled bass drum can be a spine-tingling moment and are a foretaste of many such telling touches of orchestration to be found throughout the piece. All of these are fully explored in this performance which is superior to the earlier one which Abbado conducted in Sweden, fine though that was.

The Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2 follows and Helene Grimaud makes her debut performance with Abbado with this work which she has recently included in her regular repertoire after a prolonged absence. This used to be a favourite work for her but she felt that there was a need to give it a break to refresh herself. This she does admirably in the performance, making light of the various technical and musical challenges.

The concert concludes with The Firebird suite heard here in its full orchestration rather than the version for reduced orchestra.
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This concert from Lucerne has a luke warm beginning with the Tchaikovsky Tempest Overture. To put it bluntly, despite Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra's valiant efforts, this is second rate Tchaikovsky and of little musical interest. No wonder it is so rarely performed. The concert takes off with an intelligent and impassioned performance of the Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto. Helene Grimaud, a star of the present pianistic firmament, gives a stirring account of this melodic warhorse. Good accompaniment from Abbado and orchestra.

The concert concludes with Stravinsky's Firebird Suite; the best bits of the complete ballet. This would be a greater crowd pleaser than the longer work, but how much better to have dumped the Tchaikovsky and play the complete Firebird. In any event, Abbado directs a good if not brilliant rendition of the piece.

The sound on this DVD does not have the clarity and accuracy that is normally encountered on other Abbado Lucerne recordings; particularly the magnificent Mahler performances. It is well filmed. Recommended with reservations.
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Format: DVD
I'm lucky enough in having attended all Abbado-LFO programmes in Lucerne since the orchestra was founded in 2003, including this concert and this year's performances (stunning Mahler!). It was a memorable evening, some reservations about Grimaud aside (some patching done means the playing is much less faulty than it was live). However, I can't rate this dvd with 5 stars, not because of the performance but because of the recording. I'm not fully satisfied with what DG achieved sonically: it looks like they favoured refinement at the expense of the visceral impact the perfomances had in the concert hall. Some sections of the orchestra appear more timid than they actually were (brass above all): the end result, while being very transparent and delicate (too much maybe), lacks in the excitement department (the other reviewer already noticed this). This is a pity, as I guess those who weren't there will blame Abbado or the orchestra for this, while the problem has to be located elsewhere.
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The presence on stage of the gifted pianist Helen Grimaud on stage playing Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto is the gracity center of this memorable concert.

As a matter of fact, her tone, exquisite and expressive prasing and unequaled fingering have become her one of the top artists around the world. Her beauty and formidable sense of commitment impressed this piece so many times listened, of unusual poetry and intense lyricism.

Abbado conducted the Tempest op. 18 of restrained rational coldness. The dramatic intensity this Op. demands it was overlooked by unknown reasons. (Try with Svetlanov, for instance and yopu will notice the difference from the first bars).

Stravinsky's Firebird received an honest and brilliant approach. The Festival Lucerna Orchestra achieves briliant moments (specially in metals and wooods sections).

A concert worthy to take part of your invaluable collection.
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