14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Christopher S. Curdo
- Published on Amazon.com
The selling points of this DVD, for me, were the Mendelssohn Third Symphony (I am of Scottish descent) and Yuja Wang. There were, however, unexpected surprises! If you have any doubts about the future of great music just watch and listen to the musicians in this orchestra. They are so young (and beautiful) and technically assured. Being a 'training orchestra' (albeit few could tell by the ear alone) they give a performance of the symphony that I would take over any of the older CD's that I have - by distinguished orchestras under preeminent conductors. Quite inspiring. Big sound for Mendelssohn - but lots of 'trainees.'
Another surprise was the bonus tracks of Stravinsky's "Three Scenes from Petrouchka." Ms. Wang gives a incisive account of this stunning work. It makes me wish Stravinsky wrote more music for the piano than he did. One novel camera angle especially enhanced my appreciation of the fleet fingerwork.
I have some mixed feelings about the performance of the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto played here. Mendelssohn has always been the epitome of classical refinement to me, yet he is played here more like Prokofiev. I would guess, however, that Mendelssohn, one of the greatest of musical prodigies ever, would have been impressed with the astounding clarity that Ms. Wang brings to the most rapid passages, on her big beast of a modern instrument. Again the whole thing sounded a little to big for Mendelssohn, to my taste; but, I think we are often easily deceived by the many variables that come into play when a musical performance goes from an instrument, in a particular hall, played by a particular musician, on a given day, recorded by a particular engineer and ends up getting played on whatever equipment we may be utilizing on that day, at that point in our lives - then throw in our past experience of the piece of music at hand... What I am trying to say is that if I was in the hall on the day of this particular concert I would not be surprised if the performance felt just the right 'size' to me.
In summary, a fine DVD on many levels.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This all Mendelssohn Concert in 2009 at the Verbier Festival has been digitally recorded in Dolby surround stereo and sounds great, as if both piano and orchestra were right in your living room.
Masurs account of the Scottish Symphony is remarkable for its freshness and natural spontaneity.The opening cantelina is poised and phrased very beautifully, with the exposition repeats included, and the last movement especially the final 'maestoso' is brilliant with superb horn playing from the youthful and excellent Verbier Festival Orchestra.
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor never sounded better.Yuja Wang's brilliant virtuosity, stunning octaves, vivid imagination and countless expressive insights sound uncannily like Martha Argerich and will reward the listener upon each hearing, with new discoveries.The Sextet opus 110 is played with spontaneity and great feeling, but never to the point of becoming sentimental.
There is also a bonus film featuring Yuja Wang playing Stravinsky's 'Three Movements from Petrushka' which is totally breathtaking and spellbinding evoking memories of Gilels and Horowitz. A real collectors item, and according to Deutsche Grammaphone, Yuja Wang's latest CD 'Fantasia' will soon be available on DVD.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I love Yuja and Kurt. Both are great musicians. The performances are great. The video is very nicely made, especially for Yuja. The images of her face, body language, hands and music blended so perfectly. Really enjoy watching and listening at the same time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This disc is entitled `Mendelssohn in Verbier' as it marks to bi-century of Mendelssohn's birth in 1809. However it might just as easily been entitled `Yuja Wang in Verbier' as she figures so strongly in two of the three main items and is the star of the bonus item - Stravinsky's arrangement of Petrushka movements for solo piano.
The first piece to be played is Mendelssohn's early Piano Sextet . Although carrying the late opus number of 110 it actually dates from as early as 1824 - the year before the famous and fine Octet. The Piano Sextet is certainly of the same calibre, or so it seems when played with such scintillating skill and sensitivity as by this ad hoc group of talented musicians. That Yuja Wang with her extraordinary abilities is able to fit in so seamlessly says a lot for the talents of the rest of the group.
The first Piano Concerto follows and here Yuja is the soloist bringing to the performance her customary extraordinary dexterity coupled with meltingly beautiful and sensitive phrasing plus a feather-light touch as required. The second movement amply demonstrates all these gentler elements while the outer movements sparkle in a totally winning way. Marvellous!
The 3rd Symphony concludes the concert and this is given a strongly rhythmic and muscular performance led by veteran Mendelssohnian Kurt Masur. I personally enjoyed this approach as it allowed for precise detailing of all the internal features. I am aware that some listeners have found this a touch disappointing and lacking in sparkle but Mendelssohn can be more than fast and light-weight and here there is an alternative, even Teutonic, view put forward by Masur which is worth considering even though I too, would have preferred a little more light and shade.
Light and shade is what we get in abundance with the bonus Stravinsky and which is played with jaw-dropping brilliance by Yuja Wang. She has such formidable technique at her fingertips that she is obviously enjoying it all hugely judging from the fleeting looks of pleasure flitting across her lips from time to time. This evidence of her sheer pleasure in music making is a regular feature of her performances and in this she reminds one of the violinist, Sarah Chang. Light and shade also refers to the obvious lighting problems experienced in making this bonus recording as the main lights keep failing and we regularly fluctuate from brightly lit imaging to remarkable gloom. This has to be why this is issued as a bonus item and not as a main feature. The sound, thankfully, is not affected and such is the playing on offer that such technical matters can be put aside especially in a bonus.
This is a very fine disc indeed offering good visuals and DTS surround sound throughout the main program which contains at least two stand-out performances. The bonus is simply in a class of its own. In my opinion it would be doubtful to offer less than the full 5 stars for overall content but in deference to those who do not warm to the symphony, a compromise of 4 stars seems more than fair.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)
I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)
I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
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Today's technology gave us the opportunity to watch musicians play our favorite music other than just listening. This is what this DVD is good for.
This time we are able to watch this entire concerto on our home system plus a surprise bonus for us to enjoy.
The first one is the sextet by Mendelssohn. Most of the time, chamber music are musical composition written by the composer, and also plays by the composer with his/her group of friends for their own enjoyment. The audience who happens to like the music is a by-product.
We can watch from this DVD as if we are in participation, and how I wish I could be one of them. Yuja is the leader of the group. The leader cum conductor in this DVD is the person who played the viola (David Carpenter). They communicate with each other by eye movements. At the end, they are all so happy with themselves because they just played a beautiful piece of music for their own enjoyment, not you, not me. Everyone smiled, especially the cellist(Sol Gabetta).
The second piece in the DVD is the anchor piece : Mendelssohn's first piano concerto.
I am assuming Mendelssohn is a wonderful pianist himself. If you have the sheet score like I do, and you read the sheet music while listening to this Concerto, you will find more intricacy of the concerto than just listening. Otherwise, just lay back, relax and enjoy the very spirited Yuja Wang pours her heart out. In my humble opinion, this concerto should always be played by a young and happy person (young like Yuja who is only 22 of age at the time of recording in 2009). Too bad Yuja is not partnered with a better conductor such as Abbado instead of Masur. I am biased, but Kurt Masur is not my favorite conductor.
The third piece is Mendelssohn's Symphony no. 3. I consider this as a "stuffing" to fill up the remaining of the DVD. The producer is trying to avoid us from complaining that the DVD is too short. No matter, it's there. I just ignored it.
The final bonus piece is a "piece de resistance". It is a solo recital by Yuja playing Igor Stravinsky's very famous Petrushka. Wonderful!
The Stravinsky's Petrushka is a fine testimony of Miss Yuja Wang talent. Within a bar, one can already tell that this going to be fun, good music. The interpretation is flawless. The technique is as incredible, better than a lot of the so called "greats". This is a real bonus.
Well, Yuja is right now one of the hottest pianist and she has to performs close to 100-200 live concerts a year to get through her commitments. Her repertoire is huge, and it is always an enjoyment to listen to her recitals. I have lost count of how many times I listened to her Prokofiev Piano Concerto no.2 on my iPod with Charles Dutoit conducting...
Needless to say, this is a DVD for keeps.
On the whole, Yuja came through beautifully. The mood is correct, the technique is very good. She also sings through the entire concerto !! Singing is very crucial for the understanding of the music. If an instrumentalist cannot vocalise the music, it often is an indication of the performer's lack of interest or the understanding of the music. Even Claudio Abbado sings through out all of his Mahler Symphonies, and sang out loudly during the "Firebird Suite", and of course, everyone know how Glenn Gould plays :-)
One day, I will bet my bottom dollar that Ms. Yuja Wang will be one of the world's greatest pianists. She is young now, fast and very energetic. Seldom makes any mistakes.
I really hope you will enjoy it. Give it a try. I wouldn't return mine but you could, so there is nothing to loose.
Happy listening ! And a very Happy Holiday Seasons !!!