Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Good, But ...July 28 2009
J Scott Morrison
- Published on Amazon.com
Right at the beginning I'll say that I am less thrilled with this highlights DVD from the 2008 Verbier Festival than I was with the one from the previous year Verbier Festival: Highlights 2007. First, of course, one must be aware that as a highlights disc, there are no complete multi-movement works here; we gets bits and bobs of them. The first of these, three movements of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet played by Joshua Bell and Henning Kraggerud, violins; Martha Argerich, piano; Yuri Bashmet, viola, and Mischa Maisky, cello doesn't catch fire until the Scherzo movement. I'm not quite sure what the problem is because each instrumentalist is quite wonderful individually, but somehow the thing doesn't hang together. The Fugue movement is actually rather boring.
This is followed by the fine young violinist Ilya Gringolts and pianist Aleksandar Madzar playing the last movement of Beethoven's 'Kreutzer' sonata, and a fine performance it is. Unfortunately the video of the live performance is so darkly lit that one almost feels as if it was filmed by moonlight. The Ebbéne Quartet, a foursome of young French instrumentalists, play an unexceptionable variation movement from Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' quartet. And then we get the Festival Orchestra playing the first movement of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony conducted by the new conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Manfred Honeck, and the young orchestra play their hearts out. One might quarrel with Honeck's fast tempo, but the orchestra has no trouble giving him what he wants.
Another 'moonlit' performance is two movements from Prokofiev's piano transcriptions of his own 'Romeo and Juliet' ballet music, played by the fine young Russian, Nikolai Lugansky. And then one of the highlights of the disc, the Finale from Dohnányi's Sextet for Piano, Clarinet, Horn and String Trio. Among the instrumentalists are pianist Nicholas Angelich and clarinetist Martin Fröst. A performance with plenty of sparkle.
The rising piano star, Yuja Wang, then plays an evocative 'La Valse' in Ravel's piano version, followed by a piano version (the booklet doesn't say whose transcription) of Rimsky-Korsakov's 'The Flight of the Bumblebee'. Wang's lightning fast blind octaves are a wonder to see and hear.
For me the very best thing here is the Andante from Brahm's Third Piano Quartet with a combination of old lions (pianist Menahem Pressler and violinist Salvatore Accardo) and young Turks (violist Antoine Tamestit and cellist Gautier Capuçon). This is a ravishing performance which I immediately repeated the first time I went through the DVD. Marvelous!
The disc concludes with Mischa Maisky conducting and playing the cello solo in Bruch's 'Kol Nidre'. The orchestra is again the Verbier Festival Orchestra, a collection of terrific young instrumentalists.
If you don't mind single movements from multi-movement works and if you have particular interest in any of the musicians here, I would recommend this disc. If not, I'd suggest you pass on by.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Buy this for Yuja Wang. The rest is too compromised to be satisfyingJuly 15 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought this specifically for Yuja Wang's performances of Ravel's La Valse and her rendition of the Cziffra version of The Flight of the Bumblebee which are otherwise unavailable. These two are probably the best performances you will ever see even if the sound in the Ravel is compromised by reduced sound levels at climatic points as mentioned below. They are certainly much better than the u-tube transcriptions which is where I heard them first.
The Bumblebee is a simply amazing feat of pianistic gymnastics which Yuja manages to make into a musical experience too. The Ravel gives her far more scope for expression in addition to the obvious technical requirements. The range of her touch and her understanding of all the 'fin de cycle' subtleties that Ravel incorporated into this piece are astonishing. Even with the recording engineer reducing the dynamic range of the climaxes in this piece it is still not possible to dim the sheer quality and bravura of this performance. You can even be forgiven for thinking that the orchestral version adds very little to this!
Mischa Maisky provides an impassioned rendition of Bruch's Kol Nidrei in which he conducts the young members of the Verbier Festival Chamber orchestra. It must be said however, that no matter how talented they are they simply are unable to conjure up the sheer depth of string tone required to match the passion of Maisky. For that you would need members of the BPO for example.
The rest of the disc is not of this calibre as it is mostly a sampler with just single movements taken from 8 other performances. The second best item here is the one movement taken from the Shostakovich piano quintet. However a much better buy for that piece is the whole performance seen as part of an Argerich disc which contains a full concert of full pieces and all of high quality.
The quality of the stereo-only sound is inadequate to the occasion and this is yet another area that the Verbier Festival promoters need to consider. Stereo-only sound, varying sound levels to accommodate climaxes and bleeding chunks from longer works is woefully inadequate by any standards - ancient or modern.
So at least 10 stars, if that were possible, for Yuja Wang but next to nothing for the rest, including the recording quality, hence a disappointing, but generous, 3 stars overall.
1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
DVD 3078178 doesn't play tracks 5, 6, 7 & 8 - will try to chage itOct. 17 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I received a defective DVD - today I'll try to submit an exchange order, will see if it works...