I'm no Mahler expert like the writer of the first review posted here ('Mahler nutcase', he calls himself), but I certainly agree with his general assessment of this DVD.
The DVD commemorates Boulez's 80th birthday; how is it possible that this ever-young man got to be eighty? (Unlike some others, I think Boulez is an exemplary Mahler conductor, too.) This concert features an orchestra not terribly familiar to us in the US, the Staatskapelle Berlin (and in fact when I first saw the DVD I misread it as the Staatskapelle Dresden and was a bit puzzled when I didn't see players with whom I am familiar). The Staatskapelle Berlin is, of course, the orchestra for the Berlin State Orchestra, and they don't give anything away to more famous ensembles; they sound inspired. The singers, though, are well-known. Petra Lang features in a number of previous Mahler recordings. I disagree with 'Mahler nutcase' in that I think Petra Lang has a beautiful voice, a chocolate-y contralto with just enough edge to make it stand out above the orchestral sound mass. (I actually prefer the sound of her voice to that of our current most familiar 'Mahler contralto', Michelle de Young. But no one will ever replace my old favorite, Maureen Forrester!) Her 'Urlicht' and 'O glaube' are heavenly. As for Diana Damrau, well ... she is surely the most dramatically effective coloratura singing today. (Her Queen of the Night must be heard to be believed.) One of my hallmarks for this symphony is the way in which the soprano soloist's voice emerges almost imperceptibly from the choral mass in the last movement, rising until it shines like a pole star. It gives me goosebumps when done right. Damrau (perhaps with help from the recording engineers) manages this very effectively, subtle but electrifying. The chorus is that of the Berlin State Orchestra and they are marvelous, beautifully blended, suitably ecstatic in the 'Auferstehen.' The final moments of the symphony are almost unbearably joyous when done well, and they are here.
In short, I will happily live with this DVD for years to come.
Recorded live in the Philharmonie, Berlin, on 26-27 March 2005. Videography directed (beautifully) by Michael Beyer, produced by the redoubtable Paul Smaczny. Sound is crystal clear. Picture format: NTSC 16:9; Sound formats: PCM stereo, Dolby 5.1, or DTS 5.1; Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish; Region code: 0 (worldwide); TT=89mins