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Beethoven: Piano Concerto, No. 1 & Mahler: Symphony No. 1 [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mahler, Beethoven, Hohenrieder, Staatskapelle Dresden, Luisi
  • Directors: --
  • Format: AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: EUROARTS
  • Release Date: June 30 2009
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B0027DQHAU
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa10e1a5c) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3bf9d2c) out of 5 stars Reviewing just the Mahler (for now) July 11 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: DVD
Let me be honest: I got this for the Mahler, and it's excellent. I'll look at the Beethoven concerto some time down the road. But for me, this was my best encounter with the Mahler first in a long, long time. Even though I didn't agree with every interpretive decision that Fabio Luisi made, he knew exactly what he wanted, and exactly how to express what he wanted to the Dresdeners via his hands, eyes, and face. This guy is amazing.

As such, this is my third encounter with Luisi. The first two were the Bruckner 9th and Richard Strauss' "Alpine" symphony; both on Sony, and both of those are excellent. But then again, the Staatskapelle has had a long history with both Bruckner and Strauss. But I think this orchestra was also born to play the Mahler 1st. In fact, they've already made two very good commercial recordings of M1: one with Otmar Suitner in 1962 (sans expo repeat), and one with Hiroshi Wakasugi in 1986 (I own that one). However, both are now hard to find. I want to cover some specifics, so indulge me in some subjective blather first.

You see, Mahler 1 is basically two symphonies in one. First, there's the obvious stuff: the whooping horns and tricky timpani rhythms at the end of the first movement; the sherzo at full sail; the blustering brass and percussion at both ends of the finale. But then there's plenty of music that's a total opposite to all that: the woodwind fanfare figures near the start of the first movement (which get recapitulated in the finale); the "cozy to the point of sounding lazy" - yet totally playful - middle section of the scherzo; the beautiful "Lindenbaum" melody for soft strings and harps in the third movement; the gentle moments of refrain and reflection in the finale. These moments provide the greatest possible contrast to the music that one normally associates with Mahler: tons of brass and percussion. In this performance, the Staatskapelle cover both Mahlers thoroughly, and terrifically at that. Their strings, woodwinds, brass (not overbearing), and percussion - all four of these departments are excellent throughout the performance. Luisi focuses on these contrasts, and thus drives the point of this schism within the symphony. This is the youthful and impetuous Mahler, but fully capable of self reflection when called for. There are a pair of slightly controversial decisions on Luisi's part, and I may as well cover those now.

At the start of the slow movement, Luisi has the double bass solo - or what used to be considered a solo - played "soli" (the entire bass section). This is becoming more common now, as some evidence has surfaced for its justification. For me, this is a total non-issue, as I've never been a big fan of the "creeky" sounding solo bass anyway. It doesn't make that passage sound louder, just "smoother". Some may wince at that idea, but I find it less distracting. And the other choice I'm singling out will probably be more bothersome to a number of folks: in the slow movement, Luisi conducts the East European village band passages (they're brief), far faster than usual. Thus, once again, making a big contrast to the slow and soft music that surrounds it, and making those passages sound even more Klezmer-like than usual. It's different, and I wouldn't want to hear it done that way every time. But for a change, it was quite interesting, and worked quite well. By the way, in the final few bars of the finale, the timpani and bass drum rolls sound nice and fat - just as they should (and often times don't).

I'm beginning to ramble, so the bottom line is this: this is a terrific one-off of the Mahler first, captured on tour in the new concert hall in Munich (am Gasteig). As for the Beethoven first concerto, I'm sure it's fine too. The sound and picture are both excellent on this DVD, with good camera work decisions in the Mahler (very important!).

All that said, this DVD does face some pretty stiff competition, especially if you're wanting to own just one DVD of the Mahler 1st. First off, on DG, you can get Bernstein's highly idiomatic Mahler 1 (Vienna Phil.) coupled to a decent performance of Mahler 4, with Edith Mathis singing in the final movement. On Philips, you can get Bernard Haitink's far more straight-laced (poker faced, really) Mahler 1 with the Berlin Phil., coupled to an even better performance of Mahler's huge "Resurrection" symphony (#2). The picture and sound are better on the Haitink than on the Bernstein (it's far more recent), but not so the conducting. Either one of those will do just fine. I'm very happy with this Luisi/Dresden effort.

Now it's time for my gratuitous editorial jab: I find it interesting that Bernard Haitink chose to, more or less, reject the Staatskapelle Dresden. Based on the evidence of recent recordings, I would say that both the Staatskapelle, and Fabio Luisi (he looks a little like Roberto Benigni!), got the better end of that deal. Let's hope they come back in a few years time, and turn in an earthy yet exciting Mahler 3 (Abbado has fully covered the "heavenly" aspect).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2c21798) out of 5 stars A very enjoyable concert but you need to raise the volume level to get best results July 17 2012
By I. Giles - Published on
Format: DVD
The first thing to note about this issue is that it is recorded (DTS) at an unusually low sound level and needs to be played at least 4 - 6 decibels up from the normal volume setting. The effect of that adjustment is dramatic in that it adds bite, drama and detail to an otherwise dull sounding performance and makes it a strong contender for consideration at the highest current level on DVD/Blu-ray. By this I mean Abbado for the Mahler and Barenboim or Buchbinder for the Beethoven. The camera work is sharp and sympathetic to both the players and to the music.

Beyond that consideration, which can easily be remedied by raising the playback volume level, the recording is of the quality that one would expect from a 2008 concert. The imaging is crisp and detailed without the camera work being either invasive or hyperactive. The sound is available in DTS 5.1, DD 5.1 or stereo. The DTS version is excellent and full ranging.

Having dealt with the recording quality I can now deal with the performances. The Beethoven Piano Concerto 1 is given an incisive, and at times, humorous performance by the pianist Margarita Hohenrieder. Speeds are well up to tempo and the finale is particularly fleet and bright. The conductor, Luisi, is very attentive throughout and the correctly reduced orchestra interact well with the soloist. This is a performance in good classical style played on modern instruments. Highly recommended.

The Mahler 1 is equally well played, and this time by the full orchestra who are well up the demands of the composer and the conductor. This is a meticulously prepared performance which rises satisfyingly to the climaxes but yields much attractive detail and tenderness as required. In particular, it succeeds in fulfilling Mahler's own description prior to the first performance as 'It grew so overwhelming - flowing out of me like a mountain torrent..... All the floodgates within me were thrown open in one go.' This is the description of a young man in a hurry.

Luisi's approach is not such a chamber music approach as the much admired Abbado performance but it nevertheless offers plenty of energy as Mahler would have liked, judging by his description as quoted above, plus more variety and individual freedom in those ways than we might expect from a more traditionally unified orchestral response and directed by a more dominant conductor in the Solti mould for example. Let there be no doubt about this however - Luisi is very much the man in charge and he has lots to say and I found it completely absorbing.

In summary, this is a very good and a very enjoyable concert of high quality and commitment. Provided that the volume setting is raised as suggested I would suggest that it will prove to be a rewarding experience for potential purchasers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa157e9fc) out of 5 stars Splendid production March 23 2011
By Gerhard P. Knapp - Published on
Format: DVD
This is a splendid production, technically perfect and musically outstanding. The 2008 concert was recorded in the Munich Philharmonie im Gasteig, an appealing hall with excellent acoustics. Michael Beyer's direction is sensitive to the musical proceedings and to all participants. Margarita Höhenrieder, so far unknown to me, is an impressive pianist--and a renowned teacher at the Munich music academy, as shown in the bonus portrait. She plays the Beethoven concerto flawlessly, with utmost subtlety in the lyrical passages. My subjective reservation is that some of the fire, bite and spunk of the young Beethoven--the young lion---is missing: Höhenrieder is just a bit too genteel and fastidious for this concerto. If you don't know what I mean, try Perahia/Marriner, both at the peak of their careers, or the dazzling Duchable/Nelson on DVD. She is faithfully supported in her approach by Luisi and the Dresdeners, who rather carefully and tactfully take their lead from the soloist, instead of blazing away when called for in the score. This said, one would like to hear more of Höhenrieder, in a repertoire entirely suited to her temperament. The evening's high point is clearly Mahler's First. Luisi and his Staatskapelle deliver one of the most incisive interpretations of this often ill-treated masterpiece: attentive to every nuance of near-silence and the minutest inner dynamics, yet cohesive, powerful and overwhelming in the "big" passages. Luisi wrings the entire vast spectrum of emotions from the score, from blatant sarcasm through Weltschmerz to joyful ecstasy and a truly stunning conclusion. His musicians are top-notch and follow his every glimpse and gesture in an atmosphere of congenial collaboration. Let's have more Mahler from Luisi and his superb Dresdeners! A footnote: the conductor's physiognomic expressions and his gestures seem reminiscent of the younger Mahler's mien and gestures on the podium as captured by the contemporary caricaturist.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa10962ac) out of 5 stars The Staatskapelle Dresden are the reason to buy this DVD Aug. 25 2009
By Michael Birman - Published on
Format: DVD
The Staatskapelle Dresden are one of the truly great unsung German orchestras. There are several superb German orchestras that have unfortunately been overshadowed by their proximity to two of the world's finest: The Berlin Philharmonic and The Vienna Philharmonic. The Dresdeners have a distinctive, slightly rustic quality that informs all of their performances of the core symphonic literature; producing a more rhythmic and propulsive version of these well known works with all of the qualities of the dance intact. Wolfgang Sawallisch was a particularly splendid partner with the Staatskapelle, producing recordings of the Schumann Symphonies that - to my ears at least - have never been surpassed.

This pairing of the Mahler First and the jaunty Beethoven First Piano Concerto is an excellent one. The Mahler is the most Classically austere of all of Mahler's creations with a lyricism and propulsive beauty that he rarely equaled in his later more subjective works. The Staatskapelle Dresden under Fabio Luisi do an excellent job of building tension throughout the symphony; leading up to my favorite Mahlerian finale with its thrilling, horn-driven conclusion. As presented on this DVD it is a performance that is always taut, never slack, with an almost Italianate arioso charm in the lengthy 'Freres Jacques' slow movement. This is one of the finer Mahler First Symphonies available and if you love the work you will treasure this performance.

The Beethoven First Piano Concerto - which is actually his second in compositional order - is heavily indebted to Mozart. The work is a product of Beethoven's mid-twenties when he was still coming to terms with that great Viennese master as well as his erstwhile teacher, Franz Joseph Haydn. It is not as weighty a work as either the great Fourth or Fifth Concertos but it is always charming and energetic. This DVD features an entertaining performance, beautifully played by pianist Margarita Hohenrieder. She is blessed with splendid technique: her playing is athletic, expressive and exhibits unusual stylistic maturity. A strong performance that is worth repeated listening. She also includes an encore, playing a short work by a composer I am unfamiliar with.

Both picture and sound are exemplary as is usually the case with EuroArts DVDs. This disc is definitely worth investigating if you enjoy these two works.

Mike Birman
HASH(0xa327bdb0) out of 5 stars Excellent Malher Aug. 17 2013
By George S Cornelius - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you love Mahler's first this is a must have. Excellent recording, no dynamic compression and a conductor who has an innate understanding of the music. Be sure to turn the volume up as this is a full range recording. This is a version I will return to time and time again.