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Bernstein Conducts Shostakovich (2011)

 NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, German, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Euroarts
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2011
  • Run Time: 54 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005A0FDDE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,588 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Bernstein conducts Shostakovich live from the Royal Festival Hall, London, June 9, 1979. Included is an enthralling glimpse of Bernstein in rehearsal with the orchestra.

Customer Reviews

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You get Bernstein but not a great performance August 26, 2011
First off, don't be fooled by the 1980s picture of Bernstein on the cover. This performance is from December 1966. (The "Editorial Review" above is not correct regarding the date.) As such, it partially fills the large gap between the 1959 and 1979 New York Philharmonic recordings. Bernstein was stylistically consistent in his performances of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, so if you have heard any of them you will know what to expect (i.e. fast ending).

The video editing is pretty good. The shots are well chosen and you get nice long takes of Bernstein at the start of the symphony and during the Largo. There are a few shots that are not synchronized very well and the shot of the timpani at the start of the last movement is ridiculous.

The video quality is very grainy and there are little imperfections throughout, though not so much as to be distracting.

The sound is not good but within the realm of acceptable. Loud passages are not well handled and I've got to believe that the LSO had a better string sound than what is represented here.

The performance is not going to be anybody's idea of great Shostakovich. The LSO doesn't seem quite willing (or perhaps able) to give itself over to Bernstein's heart-on-sleeve approach. None of the soloists, save perhaps the clarinet, really distinguish themselves.

All that said, Bernstein is always fascinating to watch. However, there is a 1979 DVD performance of Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 that pretty much leaves this one in the dust. If you only want one, get that one.

After writing the above, I came across a review that thinks more highly of the performance than I do. I think the reviewer is too generous regarding the performance and way too generous regarding the sound quality, but if you would like a second opinion go to MusicWeb International.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight March 19, 2013
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This DVD shows the rationale behind Bernstein's controversial tempo changes in Shostakovich 5. Bernstein's passionate and exuberant directing puts the classical masterpiece in perspective for the shocked English audience behind him. Very refreshing in comparison to Bernstein's later conducting videos. Here in the 1960's with the London Symphony, a rehearsal scene gives a small glimpse into Bernstein's early charisma and complete control over the orchestra. This would be in parallel to how he directed the Philharmonic throughout the late fifties and into the sixties. Unfortunately, the rehearsal scene only lasts for about five minutes. This is probably due to the primary editing done for the time frame of the original BBC airing. As for the DVD itself- the audio-visual combination is quite satisfactory, especially for the age, budget, and venue. A black and white mono recording can only be so good, and this copy has been preserved and edited well. If one is familiar with the other parts to the Twilight Series (Stravinsky and Sibelius), then he will have a general idea of the quality of this recording.
With both Bernstein's conducting and the LSO's performance, it is easy to get past the recording technique and dive right into the music!
Excellent performance and a historical document. A must for any serious musician.
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