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  • Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 7 - featuring Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic
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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 7 - featuring Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic


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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 7 - featuring Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic + Brahms: Symphonies + Schumann: The Symphonies
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Product Details

  • Actors: Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic, Weiner Philharmoniker
  • Directors: Burton
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Surround Sound
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: C Major Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2010
  • Run Time: 166 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003COG186
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,894 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In the mid 1980s, Unitel began recording a complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic. Bernstein's death in 1990 unfortunately cut short this project after the release of Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 7. Recorded live at Vienna's Musikvereinssaal, these ecstatic performances were the object of stellar reviews. On the double-disc set, Bernstein's unique and by now legendary interpretations of Sibelius are released for the first time on DVD.

Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
Lenny's interpretations are of course larger than life and totally subjective.
Tom J. Godell
The (stereo) sound is good, the video much better than acceptable (perhaps re-mastered?), only a bit gritty in the 5th.
Gerhard P. Knapp
Sibelius is one of my all-time favorite composers, especially the ones included in this 2 DVD set.
Ronald K. Forsmo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Tom J. Godell on June 19, 2010
Format: DVD
When these majestic, elemental performances were issued on CD two decades ago by Deutsche Grammophone, the critics had a field day. "Self-indulgent" they cried. Not up to the standard set by Bernstein's earlier New York Philharmonic recordings of the Sibelius Symphonies, and clear evidence of the old man's failing powers.

Listening to them again now--while seeing the maestro in action--is an exhilarating experience. Lenny's interpretations are of course larger than life and totally subjective. Slows are exceptionally slow, but never ponderous or static. The allegros fly like the wind--so brisk that even the legendary Vienna Philharmonic has a difficult time keeping up with their leader.

Also much in evidence is Bernstein's uncanny ability to carry a musical line across vast silences, especially in Symphony 2, where Sibelius adds fermatas to the longest rests. How Bernstein manages such wizardry is still beyond me, even after watching these videos with the utmost care. But that's hardly the only magic on display here. From the hushed mystery of the opening bars of First to the searing dissonance of the winds in the middle movement of the Fifth, to the ecstatic, nearly overwhelming climax at the end of the Seventh, Bernstein consistently rivets our attention.

Just as mesmerizing is the opportunity to watch Bernstein at work. He conducts with his eyes nearly as much as with his hands, and his facial expressions further help convey the meaning of the music to the players. Here he gently reminds the violins to use more bow; there he slashes the air violently with his baton--and is visibly moved by the ensemble's hair-trigger response. He cajoles, coaxes, and in the climactic moments leaps nimbly into the air.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By trastevere on June 7, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First, let me admit I have only recently received this set and had time to review only Symphonies #1, #2, and #5.

First: the competition:

I have never understood the detractors of Karajan vis a vis Sibelius. His monolithic performances seem to summon up the very atmosphere of the north. Vanska's more intimate approach conjures its own poetry and seems equally appropriate. Davis offers something in between. Ashkenazy, on the other hand, lights the ice on fire. For a newcomer to Sibelius, I'd start with his Decca set.

Now to Bernstein:

Symphony Number One is quite simply superb. This is an uncontroversial interpretation which finds Bernstein at his most concentrated. I'm tempted to say this is the finest thing I've ever seen him do. The entire work seems to give birth to itself before our eyes and ears in the most ideal manner imaginable. There is nothing exaggerated, even at the height of intensities that are encountered here. Bernstein was many things at many times, but never before have I been compelled to describe what is in evidence here by one word: noble. But nobility there is here in spades.

Symphony Number two, too, exudes nobility. But here there is also something else: eccentricity.

What Bernstein does in this fascinating performances is break the music down into studied, yet emotionally charged atoms. I suppose it could be argued that he is fighting against Sibelius' own instincts towards greater and greater unity. I've never heard so much silence offered between these phrases. And frankly, there are moments when the connections almost are lost. But, for every near miss, there is an even larger hit-- for Bernstein's vision is never hard to perceive.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gerhard P. Knapp on June 6, 2010
Format: DVD
There are not many conductors, past or present, who expended so much sheer physical and kinetic energy on the podium as Leonard Bernstein and, at the same time, had an equally powerful aura for projecting a compelling interpretation both for the collaborating musicians and for the audience. There are even fewer conductors who can convince us of the greatness of their conception of a given work--even if our own conception is quite different. Leonard Bernstein was one of the few. I'll put my cards on the table. My own conception of the Sibelius symphonies is lean and moderately fast, with sharp contours and edges, giving proper weight to the silence between the notes, never bombastic (Vänskä, Kamu and Berglund are among my top choices, Bernstein's earlier NY set and the glib Karajan never were). Regardless of my interpretive preferences, I found myself spellbound by these recordings. The (stereo) sound is good, the video much better than acceptable (perhaps re-mastered?), only a bit gritty in the 5th. Humphrey Burton's direction is masterful as ever. But much of the focus is on the maestro, approaching the end of his life (he died in 1990, the recordings were made during live performances in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990) in the autumnal days of his love affair with the Wiener Philharmoniker who play for him like angels (in an all-male heaven!), each and every one, as if they felt that the days of their collaboration with Bernstein were numbered. Yes, there are a few glitches, thankfully not edited, and they make the experience more real and human. As we know from Bernstein's valedictory late productions, the tempi are slow, every note is savored, every emotion painfully or joyfully wrung from the score, and everything is bigger than life. The 1st comes in at ca.Read more ›
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Is this DVD a video or audio only?
It's a video of the concerts. You can hear and see the performances. Worth every penny, in my view.
Feb 27, 2013 by goodmusicman |  See all 2 posts
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