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Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition & Borodin: Symphony No. 2 [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A true celebration, ushering in the New Year with one of the finest orchestras and greatest conductors in the world. The 2007 Gala from Berlin features the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Alexander Borodin's Second Symphony, a richly lyrical work of immense poetic grandeur and fairy-tale magic, in a programme that also includes one of the greatest classical hits ever: Modest Mussorgsky's
Pictures at an Exhibition.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle, Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Borodin, Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Directors: Elisabeth Malzer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, Dolby, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: August 31, 2010
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003T68VQC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,080 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
This is a recording of a live concert gala for New Year's Eve, 2007, in the Philharmonie Berlin.

Blu-ray productions such as this have every advantage over attending a live performance except for the thrill of actually occupying the same space and time as the great orchestra and its conductor. I know of no concert hall in which one can hear each instrument with perfect clarity and at the same time see each member of the orchestra; and it is such a pleasure to see the total commitment of each member of the orchestra that results in readings of great precision, color, and intensity.

The visual element (beautifully sharp and immediate in Blu-ray) helps to call attention to the particulars of the composers' decisions regarding orchestration and to reinforce one's knowledge that this orchestra is not only a great ensemble but also a collection of individual soloists with world-wide careers of their own. Witness for example the contribution of flutist Emmanuel Pahud, following in the footsteps perhaps of the Berliner Philharmoniker's most famous flutist alumnus, James Galway. I think that it is unfortunate that the credits, both on-screen, and in the booklet, fail to list the individual members of the orchestra; and while one can look up the personnel on the Internet, it takes some matching up of faces to figure out who is the leader of each section for a particular performance. The Berlin Phil has, for example, three concertmasters, any one of which may occupy the principal chair for a given concert. In this case it is Guy Braunstein.

I came to buy this disc and several others by the Berliner Philharmoniker as a result of enjoying their "Digital Concert Hall" for the past two years (since early 2009).
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The Berlin Philharmonic is the best orchestra in the world and they just keep getting better. The playing on this disc is great and the whole production is first rate. "Pictures" uses the Ravel orchestration which is the most commonly done and the best in my opinion. It was hard to determine which orchestration was used from the information given online.

I now own 4 blu-ray orchestra discs and am really impressed with all of them. Hopefully the price of these blu-ray discs will come down some. This disc is basically a complete concert including an encore. You won't be disappointed with your purchase.
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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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The only reason to add to the great reviews already given, is just that this disc deserves all the rave reviews it can get. This is crank it up, in your face, AWESOME music!!!!! You need a really good system with lots of dynamic headroom to play this as loudly as I think it deserves to be heard. You need some serious "Giddyup" for this disc. Warning, you may break dishes.
The point for me of blu-ray discs like this one is to not only hear great music, but to see who is making it and how it is being made. This is not always a wonderful thing; one disc the singers were so off-putting to look at as they sang, I think I prefer the TV off when listening to it. Not the case here.
The Borodin, Mussorgsky and Shostakovich offerings here are spectacular in color and richness of sound. The variety of instruments played (how do they make that sound?) displayed on this disc is incredible. And rocking.
For years I had a problem with "Pictures at an Exhibition". Just listening, with no knowledge of what I was listening to, (Love the Promenade theme and the GATES part!!!), I kept saying to myself, those must be SOME Pictures!!!!! Then I finally heard Mussorgsky's real piece on piano and that had a sense of size, balance and measure that I could relate to. Ravel just took that lovely music WAY the HECK over the top!!!!! And I listened to only the piano version for several years. But every once in a while I thought that full blown, over the top deal might be fun to listen to again. Just for grins. So finally I decided I had to really forget about the pictures and forget about the piano piece, IF I wanted to enjoy the Ravel orchestration, then go for it like digging into a big old tub of delicious ice cream, just crank it up and let it rip!!!
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Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition & Borodin: Symphony No. 2 [Blu-ray]
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