7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Gerhard P. Knapp
- Published on Amazon.com
It rarely happens, but I found myself so spellbound while first listening to Valery Gergiev's Mahler Fourth that I immediately played it a second time, following with rapt attention every detail of this outstanding performance. This is Mahler playing at its best: full of underlying tensions, quirky, but highly melodic, dynamic and with deep awareness of every detail and, at the same time, the structure as a whole. Camilla Tilling's radiant soprano and her intonation are perfect in the Finale. Gergiev is one of the most thoughtful, charismatic and humble among the truly great conductors of today. The World Orchestra for Peace (WOP), composed of volunteer principals and prominent players from all over the world, is a stellar ensemble indeed and the two BBC Prom concerts are captured in brilliant video and uncompressed, glorious audio (bravo Unitel!). The Fifth is presented on the same high level, with the necessary gravitas in the first movement, biting ferociousness in the second, plenty of spunk in the moody, eerie Scherzo - Mahler's reconstruction of a Vienna waltz into a danse macabre - and a wonderfully soulful Adagietto. The final movement is rather grim and a bit disjointed than blatantly triumphant, and this makes a lot of sense to me. Again: Mahler at his best. The bonus gives a brief history of the WOP, which was founded by Sir Georg Solti and, since his death, is under the directorship of Valery Gergiev, who is considered "Solti's successor". Whatever the reasons might be, Gergiev's temperament and interpretive style are miles away from Solti's work which could be hard-driven, abrupt and un-introspective. Despite their lack of artistic kinship, both conductors share a deep commitment to global peace: a commitment unfortunately not lived by many political leaders. The Royal Albert Hall audience - all 8000+ of them - are wildly enthusiastic, and rightly so.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This DVD release is of the fine interpretation by Gergiev at the Royal Albert Hall during the Prom concerts. The recording, both sonically and visually is excellent and well up to the high standards I have come to expect of C major. In this case however,there is clearly a more dramatic approach to the visual recording than usual, with frequent angled shots of the superb solo trumpeter taken from a close, low viewpoint for example. Both he and the solo horn player are brought to the front of the stage by Gergiev for special attention at the end and to enthusiastic applause. I have found this essentially dramatic and finely played reading to be a very rewarding interpretation over several playings and a viable additional interpretation to complement that by Abbado at Lucerne.
Very generously, this also has Mahler 4 as an additional item although there will be those who would describe the 5th as the extra item! This too is a fine interpretation and very well well played. The recording is sonically excellent in surround mode and this time the camera work has fewer of the dramatic shots as described above. This is completely appropriate as the work is fundamentally far less dramatic as a composition. The interpretation is rather more 'beefy' than that by Abbado at Lucerne which adopts a more 'open air' or chamber-like approach which is very appropriate. However the Abbado version has recording issues to consider and which some have found to be a real problem. The problem in Lucerne is that the surround sound is re-processed stereo as a result of a recording breakdown. It is good stereo but no match for this Gergiev sound in true surround.
Abbado brings a typically more open and chamber-like quality to both his interpretations while Gergiev is altogether more forthright. Abbado has the benefit of Blu-ray clarity but has issues of surround sound in 4. It is also considerably more expensive to buy as a pair of discs. This Gergiev disc offers a more 'whole orchestra' approach in very fine surround sound and good visuals in DVD only but excellent nevertheless. It is also by far the cheaper option to buy. It is therefore highly recommended not only as an additional interpretation to that of Abbado but also as an 'only' purchase of both symphonies.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Clive S. Goodwin
- Published on Amazon.com
First off, let me say this is a very generous dvd, well over 2 hours long, with two long Mahler symphonies. This of course would mean nothing if the performances weren't excellent, but thankfully they are both yardsticks.
I actually slightly preferred #5 to #4, but not by much. Gergiev plays the Fifth to the hilt, with a crackerjack finale a good bit faster than Abbado's - very exciting, and brings the house down at this Proms concert at the Albert Hall. My only caveat here is that the adagietto is over 10 minutes long, a pet peeve of mine. This piece was written as a love song which Mahler sent to his wife-to-be Alma in piano score. This is supposed to be a 7-8 minute piece, but most conductors like to milk it so that it sounds like a dirge, not a passionate song of yearning. It is, however played very beautifully, better than most I've heard.
In the Fourth, Camilla Tilling makes a great soloist in the finale, and I also prefer this performance to both of Abbado's efforts.The requisite portamenti are observed in both symphonies.
This pick-up orchestra is composed of first and second chairs from orchestras all over the world, and they play their hearts out for Gergiev. He is a very interesting conductor to watch, working without a baton, and with a lot of finger-wiggling.
The visuals are much better than in Abbado's versions, better pinpointing of instrumentalists and camera angles.Sound is excellent, especially in dts surround, very full and clear, without any obvious compression.
This is really a bargain, under $20 for this much great music. Even if you like your Abbado versions, you'll love these versions better!