Though I must confess that I AM a Roman Catholic.
This DVD records His Holiness' 80th birthday Concert in April 2007.
The programme, so it says, was chosen by the Holy Father himself.
The focus rightfully go to the two young musicians, but a considerable share of the camera also goes to the Orchestra itself.
Hilary Hahn, the violin sensation from Curtis Institute who has in recent years yielded classical music's brightest stars (Hahn, Juan Diego Florez and Lang Lang),spends no time here to prove her impeccable virtuoso. Her delivery is clean and precise; her tone full and sumptuous. At times one yearns for a slightly less focused tone colour, especially in the slow second movement. The camera's focus on the predominantly female woodwind section of the Orchestra blends in well with the visual impact on Hahn, tastefully attired in a silk embroidered gown. The cadenzas are all Hahn's, showing her great respect for the occasion and love for the Pontiff. They are all rather long, but show off her virtuosity to great advantage. The star conductor, Venezuela sensation Gustavo Dudamel had a job competently done by giving the necessary orchestral backing in a way no more and no less.
The showtime for the conductor comes in the second half. Dvorak's New World Symphony is passionately rendered, with the piece suiting the young star's conducting style to a T.
The audience's elation is obvious, and the Concert ends in a high point with the Gabrieli's brass composition.