I've listened all the "Europa Concerts" on DVD and I can really say this is my favourite together with the 1997 one conducted by Daniel Barenboim in Versailles (Paris), with an outstanding performance of Beethoven's "Eroica".
First of all this is a concert played in Lisbon, the charming, romantic and atmospheric capital city of Portugal, which I know very well. I've been at least four times in the monastery where the concert is played and recorded and I always wandered about a great concert like this in that place. Finally I can watch/listen it, even it's on DVD and the sensation is really fantastic, as the place gives lot of possibilities from the acoustic point of view (but very difficult to record; it's OK on this DVD) and because of the great church the Jeronimos is. Of course it could be much more appropriated for religious music, but even son, it's fine, great.
Having a beautiful place like this you only need a good orchestra and a great conductor to have the perfect day, and that's this case.
Berliner Philharmoniker is an outstanding orchestra, in my opinion best one in the world, as you can listen in this recording. They can adapt their style to Mozart, Ravel and Bartók with no problem, like the own Tchaikovsky told about the Berliner orchestra one century ago.
Those who didn't know very much about Boulez could be surprised by the fact of he conducts Mozart's Concerto for Piano in D minor (one of my favourites) on this DVD. Of course it's not the first time and Mr. Boulez has a long tradition in it, from the times he conducted the complete Mozart Pianos Concertos in Paris with Loriod. His Mozart, like all Boulez versions, is very clear, analytic, well balanced, clean and well done in classical style, without the "dust" of two centuries of romantic Mozart. Pires is a little more romantic in her style than Boulez, but they have great understanding and performs a wonderful interpretation, better than I could imagine.
Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin is a charming piece Boulez knows very, very well, as you can hear in his two recordings (CBS and more recently DG, with the Cleveland Orchestra). The performance we can listen here (Barenboim conducts this piece with Berlin too in Europa Concert 1997) is outstanding clearly and probably the best I know on CD or DVD. The Berliners play amazingly well and Boulez make another very clear version in which you can here everything perfectly and full of French taste. Everything is so light, well done and charming like in his two recordings, or like in the concert in which I listened this piece to him in Paris, 1997. The difference is now the orchestra, because having Berlin gives a plus to this performance. What a woodwind players!!!
Last piece is Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, another outstanding performance, probably the one I love much more together with Riccardo Chailly (Decca). I prefer even this performance more than Boulez's one with Chicago (DG), which in my opinion has any problem and, even being very perfect from the technical point of view, doesn't work so great like his other Bartok's performances. Solti (Decca), Reiner RCA) or Fricsay (DG) could be another possibilities.
This performance is fresh and very strong, something difficult to do, but possible on Boulez's hands, that analyse all to the minimum and that give more folk and Hungarian taste than in his previous recordings. It's like Boulez becomes more free in his style in the last years, and not so "cold" like he was in years before. All the five parts of the concerto are jewels in this performance and the visual part give the best in order to make this DVD a wonder. The way the image is shot in the Third movement, for example, is marvellous, as the camera rise close to the columns in an atmosphere of mystery and emotion.
The visual part is marvellous and one of the most beautiful DVDs I've ever watched, because of the place, of course, but because of the way the church is illuminated and the shots done.
The sound is very, very good and gives you the sensation of being there, even with a little echo typical of churches like that. Anyway, it's not the echo you can listen in Europa Concert 1992 in El Escorial (Madrid, Spain), that is really too much, because of the giant church in which it's recorded).
Some extras shows another releases of this wonderful label.
A must have.