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Berliner Philharmonic/Simon Rattle: Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition/Borodin - Symphony No. 2 (2007)

Elisabeth Malzer  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Berliner Philharmonic/Simon Rattle: Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition/Borodin - Symphony No. 2 + Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle: Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky/Rachmaninoff
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Product Details

  • Directors: Elisabeth Malzer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Castilian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Euroarts
  • DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TEKHHW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,191 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

Arthur Lintgen gave these performances a drubbing when they appeared on an audio CD (without the Khovanshchina snippet and the Shostakovich encore; see 31:6); and while I hold Rattle in higher regard than Lintgen does, I share his lack of enthusiasm for this very flat New Year's Eve offering. There's no point in detailing the shortcomings yet again: simply put, these are cultivated, richly upholstered, and finely executed performances without a spark of electricity. You couldn't exactly call them lackluster (they're too timbrally gorgeous); nor, for that matter, could you call them bland (Rattle fusses too much with the details). But they're often pedantic and sometimes even mind-numbing. Best, I suppose, is the beefy Borodin Second, played without its essential rough-hewn vigor but pleasant enough, given its interpretive premises. Worst is Mussorgsky's Pictures: we seem to be living in an age of lo-cal readings of this warhorse, but even in the context of Paavo Järvi and Carlo Ponti, this performance seems underpowered. The rest passes by without effect (and, in the Polovstian Dances, without a chorus--an odd decision for such a high-profile ensemble at a holiday concert).

The stereo tracks are congested and unimpressive. The surround-sound alternatives, however--especially the DTS--open things up dramatically: not state-of-the-art, but nothing to sneer at. The video is clean, but the camera doesn't always track where you expect it to and Rattle's tendency to fall into Karajan-like rapture seems a bad sign. Save your money. -- Fanfare, Peter J. Rabinowitz, Jan-Feb 2010

Product Description

This 2007 gala from Berlin features the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle in works by Borodin, Mussorgsky, and Shostakovich.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Berlin Philharmonic has been known to eat conductors alive. Even the iron-willed Herbert von Karajan had his problems, barely escaping unscathed following a controversy over his choice of orchestra members. So when Sir Simon was picked as principle conductor of the orchestra there was some surprise over the decision; the impression that he might not be up to the task because of his easy-going nature was fairly wide-spread. But he has been a splendid conductor of the orchestra and the match appears to be a nearly perfect one.

This DVD features two superb Russian works that convey something of the vivid nationalism that swept through Russia in the Nineteenth Century. Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel has been a popular work since its first performance. The Berlin Philharmonic are especially brilliant in these large-scale pictorial works; their wonderful technique, stunning tone and sheer forcefulness have never been more evident than here. Listen to those deep, rumbling brasses, the expressive sheen of their strings and the intimate lyricism of the woodwinds and you will appreciate why this orchestra is considered so special. This is a vivid technicolor performance with Sir Simon firmly in control, loosening the reins now and then as needed. The huge orchestral finale with its mighty reverberating gongs seems to magically conjure the Great Gate of Kiev into existence in our imagination and it is simply thrilling.

Borodin's slightly more subdued Symphony No. 2 is a lyrical masterpiece that evokes a mythical Russia. To my mind it seems to convey the vast frozen steppes and the ancient invading Rus. There is an autumnal Slavic melancholy in almost every note of the symphony.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Performance. October 2, 2009
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I agree with Mike Birman's review, so I'll make this short. The Berlin Philharmonic just gets better every time I hear it. It is great to see so many young men and women in the orchestra. This is a superb performance of Pictures at an Exhibition. The Borodin is less familiar to me (I love his Quartet #2) but was beautifully played.
Like all EuroArts DVDs, this concert looks and sounds great. Highly recommended.
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This Russian-themed concert from 2007 is performed at the expected high standards of the BPO under Simon Rattle. Its success, when judged against the highest of interpretive standards, is a little more varied however while still being an enjoyable concert overall.

The opening Polovtsian Dances make a good opening number and are given a comfortably secure reading which makes full use of the tonal resources of the orchestra. It is the following second symphony of Borodin that doubts really start to appear. This is a very major Russian work and the Russian temperament ideally needs to be fully exposed. It is this aspect that is so obviously missing, especially in the opening movement. Those who are familiar with the famous Decca recording of the work with Martinon conducting the LSO on top form will know exactly what I mean here. That performance sizzles from the start and serves as a good example that it does not require a Russian orchestra and/or conductor to achieve the Russian volatility that is missing here. However, to be fair, the Borodin pieces could be described as very good, mid-European performances.

The Mussorgsky half of this concert is totally successful. The Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated by Ravel, is also more European in its conceptual nature and suits this orchestra well. The music has long been a staple item in the orchestra's repertoire, even going back to an admired recording by Karajan in the 1960's. The piece features many solo passages and it is in these that the individual players excel. The larger moments also suit the accumulative tonal resources and power of this impressive group of musicians. The Khovanshchina introduction is an object lesson in sustained quiet expressive playing, even almost to the point of inaudibility at times.
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