Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
this has everything that's missing from the DG recordingApril 21 2007
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I like this DVD of Boulez's *live* M2 "Resurrection" much, MUCH more than his DG studio recording. In short, it has everything that's missing in the studio recording. Starting from the rear, Boulez conducts - and gets! - a real crescendo from the timpani on the very last chord of the symphony. On the DG recording, there's virtually no crescendo on the last chord (go figure!). There's almost zero organ on the DG recording, regardless of what stereo I play it on. While not huge sounding, there's sufficient organ on this live performance. At the end of the symphony, the low gong is great, but the high gong is almost inaudible - this much is truly better on the DG recording. However, you gain an organ here, and I'll gladly live with that trade-off. The deep bells are also really good on this live one.
While Petra Lang doesn't possess a paricularly beautiful sounding vocal instrumental, she certainly knows how to use what she's got (she'd make a great Erde). I find her more involved sounding than Michelle De Young. Also, the mezzo and soprano match each other perfectly here - they really work together. The chorus is excellent on this live performance. All of the offstage brass stuff is perfectly audible and well coordinated. The scherzo has an almost tangible sense of irony and humor (ironic humor, anyone?) that's simply missing on the Vienna recording. There's no underlying sense that everybody is just skating along. Last but not least, the main climaxes to the first and third movements are far more gripping and powerful on this live perfomance. From beginning to end, the committment and execution of the Staatskapelle Berlin is second to none. This was one hell of a great concert. If you're a fan of Boulez, or just a fan of Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony in general - either way, add this one to your collection.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Beautifully Played and Filmed Mahler 'Resurrection' SymphonyMay 31 2007
J Scott Morrison
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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
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Fitting Tribute to Mahler and to Boulez at 80June 22 2007
Mr John Haueisen
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There's hope for us as we get older. Pierre Boulez, at the age of 80 has totally prepared the Staatskappele of Berlin for this flawless performance.
The soloists always play a major role in Mahler's second. Soprano Diana Damrau shines with a crystal-clear voice that cuts through the orchestra and chorus like a Mahlerian "alldurchdringer"--an all-penetrating force. Even when not singing, she looks involved in the drama. Contralto Petra Lang sings forcefully and with conviction, adding to the impact of Mahler's statement of his faith in a resurrection.
There are also other excellent dvd recordings of this symphony. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado is excellent, alongwith superb soloists Anna Larsson and Eteri Gvazava.
If you enjoy a good show alongside a beautiful performance, please don't overlook Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to a perfect performance of the music, you are treated to Lenny's leaping, bouncing, and almost flying, as he demonstrates his involvement in, and love of, the music.
Choosing the best Mahler 2 is like choosing among one's children: each has a unique identity, but you will love them all.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A glorious and unforgettable performanceMay 26 2010
Gerhard P. Knapp
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Mahler's Second Symphony has been recorded dozens of times, recently by Pierre Boulez himself (his 2006 DG CD with the Vienna Philharmonic which, in my opinion, does quite not match the DVD's audio nor the interpretation), and several competing versions are available on DVD. Boulez' interpretation, filmed in the Berlin Philharmonie on the occasion of the composer-conductor's eightieth birthday in March 2005, features the Staatskapelle Berlin in highly distinguished form as well as Diana Damrau and Petra Lang, both very much in tune with Mahler's vocal demands and the requisite broad expressive range. The Chor der Deutschen Staatskapelle Berlin is superb. In a brief but moving ceremony at the end of the concert, Pierre Boulez is appointed Honorary Conductor of the Staatskapelle Berlin. His reply: "I can only say one sentence: I am speechless." The Philharmonie's acoustics work exceedingly well for this recording: almost every single voice and instrument can be heard in proper balance and the sound stage is near perfect. Special plaudits go to the camera team and the editors who faithfully follow the score throughout the performance without any gimmickry. For Boulez, the symphony is much less a tribute to late Romanticism than a visionary foreshadowing of the twentieth century, of the revolutions in tonality and harmony--and perhaps even the catastrophic experiences of humanity--just around the corner. Quirky harmonies and chilling dissonances are given full attention in Boulez' analytical approach. Moments of extreme anguish or of triumph are at times imperceptibly reined in, nothing spills over. Boulez does not unduly linger on particular phrases. The cataclysmic first movement is inexorable rather than devastating, the finale glorious and sublime rather than apocalyptic. In the middle movements, Boulez' transparent display of textures highlights the inner cohesion of the musical strands and alerts the listener to details often lost in other performances, even to intertextualities with the late symphonies. Tempi are relaxed, with the exception of the relatively fast, hard-hitting Scherzo (10:01). Boulez takes the final movement much slower than most others (his 38:03 in comparison to Bernstein's 34:40, Abbado's 34:24 and Järvi's 33:43---all on DVD---or to 35:35 in Gielen's interpretation, one of my favorites, and to Klemperer's 34:06 or Norrington's at 33:57), but nothing of the tension is lost, nothing drags, the long movement beautifully unfolds as a journey from chaos to redemption. At eighty, Boulez' minimalist directing technique has become even more sparing: he conducts without baton, eye contact prepares the musicians for their entrance, his hands indicate the beat and underline a phrase, and his face remains impenetrable most of the time. Thus the contrast between sparing visible leadership and the perfect cooperation of all is truly amazing and shows a deep rapport that goes beyond exacting rehearsals and professionalism on the ensemble's part. It all adds up to a glorious and unforgettable performance.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
What can I say about Boulez?June 18 2013
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The notables seen in the audience when the camera looks at the house tells it all. There are several big-name conductors sitting in the completely filled auditorium, obviously there for the chance to see Peirre Boulez do what he does so well. He conducts Mahler with a complete absence of theatrics and although he uses a score, one gets the impression he really doesn't need it. The Staatskapelle Berlin the Chor der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin blend perfectly into a cohesive body that supports Diana Damuay and Petra Lang superbly. This is one of the truly great performances of the Second I've seen or heard. Petra Lang's singing in the fourth movement is chilling. She has amazing control and her voice does not change at different volumes. And never does one feel Maestro Boulez "controls" the soloists - it's as if they set the tempo and he guides the rest of the forces to provide support to their sublime singing. This is one I watch often, sometimes twice in one sitting.