Janine Jansen gets the best out of her instrument and has unique spontaneity in her delivery. A vibrant young musician with a great future. I was disappointed that she only played two short pieces on this DVD.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A great night out in BerlinDec 1 2008
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This is from a concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Waldbühne ("Forest Stage") in Berlin. The Waldbühne is Berlin's answer to the Hollywood Bowl -- a nice outdoor concert venue that is less formal and more relaxed than an indoor concert hall. At the same time, there are compromises in sound (at least this concert doesn't have helicopters flying overhead -- which was the case at my last visit to the Hollywood Bowl!).
Neeme Jarvi, formerly of the Detroit and New Jersey symphony orchestras and now chief conductor at the Hague's Residentie Orkest, puts on a great concert here, a nice evening with kind of an "Arabian Nights" theme. It features a very lyrical reading of Rimsky's "Scheherezade", in which the BPO's first Koncertmeister Daniel Stabrawa (not Janine Jansen) takes the solo parts.
Janine Jansen comes on for a brief but spectacular Meditation from "Thaïs" by Massenet and a great "Introduction and Rondo capriccioso" by Saint-Saens. Her appearance clocks in at only about a quarter hour, however, so you may want to think twice if you are buying it for her (looking fabulous in her red dress, by the way).
There are also Scandinavian pieces that somehow fit into the European fantasy-Middle-Eastern theme very well -- excerpts from Grieg's "Peer Gynt" and from Nielsen's "Aladdin". The whole thing kicks off with the overture from Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio".
The exotic theme fades out for the finale, a short "Berliner Luft" by Lincke, but that is made up for by the fact that the Berliners in the audience go nuts and start whistling and dancing like maniacs. So does Jarvi, for that matter -- dancing, although not whistling. Forget your staid German stereotypes: while well-to-do Berliners cutting loose at a classical concert may not be exactly rowdy, it's still quite entertaining to watch.
A previous reviewer mentioned Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The comparison is apt -- this is a "pops" style concert. The quality of the audio is very good for being recorded at an outdoor venue, but it is still not the controlled environment of a studio or concert hall, and the sound gets a bit thin at times. That all being said, it is a very pleasant concert.
I was debating whether to give it four or five stars. I might have been too harsh with four, since for its own "light classic" or "pops" genre it really is a great recording and a masterful performance. It's just not Mahler, if you know what I mean. I also have a bias against taking excerpts out of works -- in general, I'd prefer a whole "Peer Gynt" and "Aladdin" to bits and bobs. I'd probably give four and half stars if I could.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great pops concert, worth watching over and overMarch 24 2010
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The Berlin Philharmonic, considered to be one of the five greatest orchestras in the world, plays a pops concert on this DVD. The evening opens up with a Mozart overture played with great charm by the BPO. Next comes a short work by Nielsen that is interesting but hardly inspired. It features some outstanding brass playing.
The first two movements of Sheherazade by Rimsky Korsakov are next followed by three excerpts from Grieg's Peer Gynt. Two of them feature female vocal soloists and both performances are quite wonderful. Next comes Janine Jensen in the Meditation from Thais by Massenet and the famous Introduction and Rondo Capriciosso by Saint-Saens. Her performances are as passionate as you will ever hear. Sheherazde's last two movements follow the three soloists and the concert concludes with three encores.
Although I loved this DVD, I felt the programming was strange. All the soloists were magnificent but only Ms. Jensen spent enough time on stage. It was nice to hear Sheherazade but why was it broken into two parts? Just a few quibbles. I still highly recommend it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Superb "Sheherazade" from BerlinFeb. 19 2010
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After listening to the many versions I have of "Sheherazade" by other orchestras and conductors, THIS one is, in my opinion, the most beautiful and thrilling. Neeme Jarvi and the always superb Berlin Philharmoniker play with such obvious joy and passion that it is hard to keep from moving to the music. This DVD is a testament to the idea that a work that is performed so often CAN be fresh and new. Just observing the attitudes of the various players is proof that being in this orchestra is the best thing going! Each member is a consummate artist in his or her own right. They can do anything. As with all of the Berlin Philharmoniker's DVDs, I am impressed with their delight and pride in being a part of such wonderful music-making. This orchestra is not a collection of impersonal and detached automatons sawing away at a "job", but a group of flesh and blood human beings. I am beginning to know the names and faces of individual players and watch for them as I would old friends. The Berlin's web site provides pictures and brief biographies of each player, enabling one to become more familiar with them as individuals. In addition, the visuals of the audience are a welcome treat. Children, older people, young lovers, and whole families are shown thoroughly attentive and having the time of their lives. The Waldbume venue accommodates 22,000! The festive and casual nature of these concerts must be a thrilling experience for these lucky people. A far cry from "His Legacy", these DVDs are a living testimonial to the brilliance of the Berlin "family". The producers and directors of the performances are to be seriously complimented for these magnificent presentations. SIX stars!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
DisappointedOct. 20 2010
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First of all, i had no idea that Janine Jansen was NOT the soloist for the Rimsky Korsakov Scheherazade, as is implied by the appearance on the cover. Secondly the performance of the piece was broken up with other pieces in the middle of it. At first I thought, why in the world perform the first two movements of Rimsky's piece and then play several other pieces by other composers and then perform the last two movements of Scheherazade!? Why break the piece up that way???? But after hearing the entire DVD, it seems an interesting concept, given that the end of the second movement of Scheherazade plays like an ending. So it can work that way. But, I bought this DVD. totally believing it was going to feature Jansen as the soloist. If you look at the cover of the DVD it doesn't even mention any of the other works and you see pictured Janine playing the violin and Neeme Jarvi conducting. One has to assume that is what you are getting!!l I must say too, that i have heard better performances of Scheherazade, For me this one is not always at the right tempo and at times does not flow as it should.
What you actually get on the dvd is Mozart, Nielsen, then two parts of Rimsky-K. then Edvard Grieg, Massenet, Saint-Saens, then the rest of Rimsky's Scheherazade, then three more pieces by other composers. It is not as advertised. Yes, a lot of classic music, granted, but not what I expected. I feel ripped off by false advertising. Lastly, it was shipped UPS, who leaves articles on the doorstep, out in the open to be stolen. To top it off the case on this DVD was smashed on the bottom although the disc itself was not damaged. The outside package was not torn but there was evidence of someone dropping something heavy and pointed on it and that same mark showed up near the bottom of the plastic jewel case and pieces of the bottom edge broken off.
If I had read the reviews before buying this I probably would have passed on it because my only reason for buying it was the idea of Jansen on the Rimsky. The 4 rating is because of the splitting up of the Rimsky. I have never seen that done before. As for the total content, sure, it is good but it is mostly music i would not personally collect in my library. It is a pricey Scheherazade. Gorgeous looking DVD however.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not sure how to rate it: some great, some so-so, some annoyingMarch 21 2011
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I'll make it short:
1. It is a Waldbühne concert (correctly identified by one of the reviewers here as "pops"). I wish that word had been present in the title, since it would have made my expectations more correct. I'm not a fan of the "pops" idea in general and of the Waldbühne series in particular.
2. The part of the concert that makes this worth watching is: Solberg singing Solveig's Song and Jansen's two pieces (Meditation from Thais and Saint-Saëns's Rondo Capriccioso). This is outstanding -- one just can't get enough of it. Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade is good but not at the same level: despite a number of cute moments, it is not such a great piece of music, and the performance of it here was not the best I've heard, charitably speaking; not being a conductor and so for what it's worth -- it seemed that the conductor thought in short elements, like periods or something like that; the longer-scale view of the piece was lacking; there was no overall flow; it sounded kind of stop-and-go a bit, disconnected, a bit grating. Usually this piece has a heaving, billowing, swirling quality to it overall, but not here. The Nielsen piece was downright boring.
3. The beginning (Mozart overture) was OK, but I didn't care for it much. It's probably subjective, but with known operas, my musical brain "expects", as it were, the spectacle proper after the overture; its not being there feels strange.
4. The concert ends in a blast of germanic beer music that the locals apparently love, but I didn't. The last twenty minutes spoil the overall thing, imo.
So: Jansen and Solberg numbers: five stars, no question (this is the part I've watched many times). The rest between four and two stars. Rimsky-Korsakov being split in two didn't bother me (though it is unusual). This was done, I figure, to make the programme more varied, contrasting, less taxing on the lovers of german beer music. Sound and video are impeccable. I'll give the whole thing five stars for the sakes of the best on this DVD, but be forewarned, it's not all at this level. Well, somewhat depending on how you like teutonic boom-boom marschen and elderly, portly conductors jumping up and down in a baboon fashion in a classical-music venue.