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Salonen: LA Variations, Sibelius: Symphony No. 5: Live at Verbier Festival (2007)

Esa-Pekka Salonen , Jean Sibelius , Francois-Rene Martin  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jean Sibelius, UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra
  • Directors: Francois-Rene Martin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Medici Arts
  • DVD Release Date: July 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 56 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,776 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Esa-Pekka Salonen, musical director of the Los Angeles Philarmonic Orchestra until summer 2009,
is one of the most brilliant conductors of his generation. He has recently taken up the position of
Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.
Even though he studied at the Sibelius Academy, it took him years before considering
conducting works of Finland s emblematic composer, Jean Sibelius. 'To me, he says, an ideal
concert of Sibelius should not look like an interpretation, nor like any point of view. I would like it to
be like the shattering ice, during springtime, in a Northern river: intense, beautiful, terrifying and
inevitable. I am not sure if someone can ever do that, but we can at least try.' During Summer 2007 in Verbier, Salonen lead the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, and took up this
challenge in Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. His interpretation really evokes these ice blocks breaking
during springtime: intense, beautiful, terrifying and inevitable.
Before this unforgettable « Fifth » of Sibelius, Salonen, also a composer, conducts one of his own
works, L.A. Variations. Premiered in 1996 and commissioned by the Los Angeles Philarmonic
Orchestra, this piece has been especially written by Salonen in order to highlight the virtuosity
and the power of this orchestra.

Customer Reviews

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salonen fans need not hesitate September 21, 2009
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This is a DVD recording of Salonen conducting a very good youth orchestra in his wonderful "LA Variations" and the Sibelius 5th. Its great to have his LA Variations on DVD and to see him conduct it. He is a great composer and this is one of his best. Now that he has left the LA Phil I am hoping he will create more music. The Sibelius is also wonderful. He gets fierce playing from the orchestra and the end of the first movement is very exciting. A great DVD. This is not a "thin" performance. No way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salonen triumphs with the Verbier Festival Orchestra October 28, 2013
For those of us who have been honored to have Esa-Pekka Salonen as music director and conductor of the LA Philharmonic for 17 years until 2009, these pieces captured on DVD are a reminder of how thrilling a conductor and composer he has become. Salonen has matured into an insightful composer and conductor and his place in the music world and the future is secure. Salonen is now at the top of the conductorial heap as a Sibelius interpreter, and this live performance proves that he can bring a Festival orchestra up to the level of a major orchestra with his incisive direction and coaching.

The melding of minds of these fellow countrymen -Sibelius/Salonen/Finland - is evident. The Symphony No. 5 glows with a radiance missing in most conductor's hands, and Salonen's tempi are not rushed and yes, even at times a bit slow. Salonen continues to surprise us in every way. A supremely gifted conductor, he has moved from the school of dissecting the works of the last centuries, finding nuances and clarity that makes them seem new. Now his acute sense of detail and attention to orchestral color has matured into finding the power of the soul, the non-cerebral passion that makes the masterworks continue to live. Few conduct Mahler, Debussy, Bruckner, Strauss and then Stravinsky/Bartok/Prokofiev/Sibelius/Nielson better. The same journey applies to his own compositions. Yes, he explores the infinite spectrum of instrumental and vocal colors, but now he is showing us how he can work with massive clouds of sound and allow us to walk into that soundscape, seeing every atom without losing the emotional impact of the whole. LA VARIATIONS is well worth being in the repertoire of all the major orchestras. It is a big, luxurious, lush tonal poem. Grady Harp, October 13
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5.0 out of 5 stars Salonen understands Sibelius like no other! August 26, 2013
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I will openly admit that I did not buy this for the L.A. Variations by Salonen, though I do like the pieces. I purchased this because Salonen feels and expresses Sibelius like no other conductor I have heard. He seems to carry the spirit of Sibelius within him.
The 5th symphony by Sibelius is, with the 4th (don't make me choose between the 2), my favorite of Sibelius' symphonies. He wrote it after rising from a deep depression (a depression expressed beautifully in his 4th which was written in the midst of that depression) and the glorious exploration of the instruments, especially the French Horns and the Woodwinds, in my humble opinion, convey this escape from the darkness in wonderful fashion.
To top it off, Salonen, as I stated, just knows his countryman's outstanding and astoundingly brooding and beautiful works like no other conductor I have ever heard.
My only complaint, and it isn't about this DVD, is that Salonen has not recorded all of Sibelius' symphonies; I'd buy all of his interpretations in a heartbeat!
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This Medici Arts DVD documents a concert from the 2007 Verbier Festival, where Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the festival's youth orchestra in two Finnish works.

The first is Salonen's own "L.A. Variations" (1996), which broke a long compositional hiatus where Salonen left behind European high modernism for slightly more populist fare. It is a juxtaposition of individual scenes, each of which features some particular instrumental arrangement, a concerto for orchestra of sorts. Salonen has come to love busy, aggressive rhythms, and I think this piece will especially appeal to fans of Stravinsky. It's worthwhile getting acquainted with this piece in its performance by Salonen and the LA Philharmonic on a Sony disc, but Salonen's music of the last 15 years is so richly scored (overscored, really) that not all of the work comes across in recording. Thus, this DVD is helpful in allowing one to see everything that's going on. It's amazing that a youth orchestra looks so confident with this rather challenging piece.

The second work is Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 5, by broad consensus *the* Finnish orchestral masterpiece. I've never especially liked Salonen's approach to this piece (slow to the point of dragging), and this orchestra give no more than an average performance of the piece.

The disc is only 56 minutes long, and only in stereo sound -- there's no surround mix. It's not good value, If you have the money to spend, however, and are a fan of Salonen's own compositions, then there is some entertainment here.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad Sibelius in a very thin performance August 18, 2009
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Salonen is a pretty good Sibelius conductor, but this orchestra is not very good. The brass in particular is weak and badly intoned. I know this symphony well from many notable recordings, and the balances here are off, as are the slow tempi in the first and third movements. The finale is anticlimactic - maybe this group is just too small in number. THe female tympanist is excellent, and the woodwinds are good, too, but the strings are very under-nourished. This DVD is only 56 mins. long, very poor value,and this includes an inconsequential piece of Salonen's. The only sound offered is stereo, almost unheard of in new recordings, no surround at all!
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