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Europakonzert 2013 [From Prague Castle] [Simon Rattle, Magdalena Kozena] [Euroarts: 2059428] [DVD] [NTSC]

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4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Format: Classical, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: English, German, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Euroarts
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Nov 2013
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00EPRIUJC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,790 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

EUROPAKONZERT 2013
From the Spanish Hall at the Prague Castle


Magdalena Koená
Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Antonin Dvoák Biblical Songs op. 99
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 6 in F major op. 68 Pastoral

The Europakonzert is the annual celebration of the founding day of the Berliner Philharmoniker on May 1st. The purpose of this unique series is to perform concerts at places which have a special cultural history and compel through their stunning architecture in order to provide the audience with a visual experience out of the ordinary

The concert in 2013, performed at the historical Spanish Hall at Prague Castle features Sir Simon Rattle and Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená (winner of the Echo Klassik) performing music from Ralph Vaughan Williams, Ludwig van Beethoven and Antonín Dvoák

With subtitles for the rarely performed Biblical Songs from Antonín Dvoák

Picture format Blu-ray Disc: 1080i Full HD 16:9
Sound format Blu-ray Disc: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Aud
Region code: All (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 84 min


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
This concert from Prague continues the tradition of the annual celebratory concerts celebrating the creation of this famous orchestra. Each year the concert is played in a specially chosen venue and the concert program usually has a significant connection with that venue. In this case the connection is through the music of Dvorak.

The concert opens with a performance of the Vaughan Williams Thomas Tallis Fantasia for strings. The strings are divided into the main body and a smaller body of players which relates back to the concept of the concerto grosso form of construction. This is a very major work from the last century and is an obvious masterpiece although one suspects that the Prague audience may have been unfamiliar with it. Rattle coaxes and receives from his players a performance of tremendous subtlety, a feature which is made apparent right from the opening phrase. The Berlin players respond wonderfully and one wonders just how many of them will have been enjoying the music for the first time. Expressions and glances of pleasure are caught flitting between players during the performance at various points. This is not a red hot emotional performance such as those given by Barbirolli or Silvestri on CD for example but it is more emotionally engaging than some of the cooler versions such as the magisterial Boult. In short, a fine and satisfying performance of some real perception.

The 10 Biblical Songs by Dvorak are a late work and the songs are short biblical settings amounting to about 30 minutes. They are deeply personal statements and are beautifully and radiantly sung with passion and commitment by Magdalena Kozena, otherwise known as Mrs Rattle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a marvelous concert 5 Sep 2014
By JACQUE
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Superb sound and picture! Beautifully played by the BPO. Magdalena Kozena, not previously known to me, has a powerful voice. a delightful personality, and is very professional. Her biblical songs may not be everybody`s choice, but they were expressively presented. The Pastoral was as good as it gets! Well worth having!
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By frits
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Wonderful setting with ethousiastic Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kozena beautiful and great singing. She should be more regarded as one of today's top singers and step out off the shadow. The Berlin Philharmonic 100% German perfection as always. Superb value for money and happy that Blu Ray has been invented to give us crisp and clear views of the tiniest details.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable DVD of enjoyable event 2 Feb 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is certainly an enjoyable recording - a concert by artists of the highest calibre in an attractive historical venue, the Spanish Hall in Prague Castle. It's to be valued more for the sense of occasion that for any individual interpretation, though. Simon Rattle has not recorded much VW - none of the symphonies, so far as I know - and doesn't seem specially attuned to it - the work comes across rather sectionalised without the commanding arch it should present, and does in the classic performances by Adrian Boult and others - including the great Czech Karel Ančerl, though most of the Prague audience would be too young to remember his performances of the work in Prague with the Czech Philharmonic back in the 1960s. But the wonderful playing by the Berlin strings can be joyfully appreciated.

Eight of Dvořák's ten Biblical Songs are presented here, three orchestrated by Dvořák and the remainder I assume in the orchestrations by Vilém Zemánek. The complete set of ten, including the two remaining songs, both orchestrated by Dvořák himself, were included in a concert the same artists gave in Berlin and issued on CD on Deutsche Grammophon - to get the complete work you should buy this CD as well. (or just download the two missing songs - see http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Longing-Ravel-Dvor%C3%A1k-Mahler/dp/B007UAZZH6/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_mus?ie=UTF8&qid=1391345153&sr=8-1&keywords=rattle+kozena+dvorak ) It seems rather odd that, if they were not going to include all the songs, the two omitted should be among those Dvořák chose to orchestrate himself.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing with Rattle 4 Nov 2013
By Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Of all the classical Blu-rays I've viewed, this one has to be the most relaxing. I expect it will retain that distinction until a Delius disc is released. (Perhaps that's wishful thinking. Is Delius being performed anymore?)

The program, as disparate as it appears to be, actually consists of highly complementary works by very different composers. All are gentle, introspective and inspired by folk music themes.

The first work, Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" starts things off on a magical note with long threads of gorgeous sound, and the spell is never broken. It's beautifully done. Bravo, as always, to the Berlin Philharmonic (arguably the world's greatest orchestra), which here seems to feature many new faces.

Next up are Dvorak's "Biblical Songs." If you're familiar with his opera "Rusalka" or at least its famous aria, the "Song to the Moon," then you have a sense of what you'll experience here. These songs are much earthier than, say, those of Richard Strauss, even though they focus on the heavens. There are 10 songs lasting about 25 minutes, and they are done full justice by the lovely mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena (who happens to be married to conductor Simon Rattle). She's very expressive, facially as well as vocally, and conveys great warmth.

I should mention here that the Blu-ray's audio balance favors the orchestra, so there are a couple of moments where Kozena's voice is somewhat swamped. Also, the hall (more about it later) is quite reverberant, but one's ears adjust quickly. I'm sure this venue posed a major challenge for the video's sound engineers.

Of course, the likelihood of these songs being captured on hi-def video again is remote, so if they are of interest, there's no need to look further than this heartfelt performance.

The final piece is Beethoven's 6th Symphony. This highly familiar work -- my favorite among Beethoven's symphonies -- receives an excellent reading here.

The setting for this concert is the Spanish Hall at Prague Castle. It's quite stunning, with elaborate ornamentation that goes on for days. The video director is understandably unable to resist lingering over the sculpture-filled, gold-leafed walls and the huge chandeliers featuring busts and cherubs.

This performance was captured in May, only months before the Blu-ray's release. The picture quality is perhaps the best I've ever seen. The technology obviously continues to improve, because just when you think the picture can't get any sharper, it does. The audio quality, save for the couple of minor issues mentioned above, is very satisfying.

Not long before this performance, Rattle announced that he would be leaving his post with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2018, at which point he will have conducted the orchestra for 16 years. It's been a wonderfully symbiotic relationship, and he'll be greatly missed. Here's hoping EuroArts captures many of their remaining performances together and releases them on Blu-ray.

---------------------------------------------------------------

I was provided with a review copy of this particular disc, although I've purchased many EuroArts discs (as well as those of other classical music labels) over the years.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing and recording of considerable subtlety from these highly experienced musicians 27 Oct 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
This concert from Prague continues the tradition of the annual celebratory concerts celebrating the creation of this famous orchestra. Each year the concert is played in a specially chosen venue and the concert program usually has a significant connection with that venue. In this case the connection is through the music of Dvorak.

The concert opens with a performance of the Vaughan Williams Thomas Tallis Fantasia for strings. The strings are divided into the main body and a smaller body of players which relates back to the concept of the concerto grosso form of construction. This is a very major work from the last century and is an obvious masterpiece although one suspects that the Prague audience may have been unfamiliar with it. Rattle coaxes and receives from his players a performance of tremendous subtlety, a feature which is made apparent right from the opening phrase. The Berlin players respond wonderfully and one wonders just how many of them will have been enjoying the music for the first time. Expressions and glances of pleasure are caught flitting between players during the performance at various points. This is not a red hot emotional performance such as those given by Barbirolli or Silvestri on CD for example but it is more emotionally engaging than some of the cooler versions such as the magisterial Boult. In short, a fine and satisfying performance of some real perception.

The 10 Biblical Songs by Dvorak are a late work and the songs are short biblical settings amounting to about 30 minutes. They are deeply personal statements and are beautifully and radiantly sung with passion and commitment by Magdalena Kozena, otherwise known as Mrs Rattle. This is a section of the concert that communicated directly to the Prague audience which, no doubt, enjoyed the experience of hearing it sung in Czech as written. The subtitles will clearly help to make this an equally enjoyable experience for all those not fluent in Czech. The audience gave this performance the first of the concert's standing ovations.

The concert concludes with an equally subtle performance of Beethoven's Pastoral symphony. This is a traditional performance in the sense that speeds are more relaxed than might be expected with the peasants being on their best behaviour, the storm not being too threatening and with the conclusion providing a comforting glow of satisfaction. This could not really be described as a period aware performance nor as a taut and scaled down BPO performance like Abbado's in Rome, also available on Euroarts. Nor was it as heavy weight and idiosyncratic as Thielemann's with the VPO. Rattle played it straight with much detail of phrasing brought out to satisfying effect. In many ways it was much the same type of performance as that given to the opening Vaughan Williams and with all the same virtues. The audience loved it and rose to their feet for a sustained ovation which was continuing as the recording faded out.

The recording delivers very crisp imaging with good colour. The camera work provides detail without being invasive. The sound is full and satisfying and is provided in DTS 5.1 and stereo.

This is a very satisfying concert with plenty of program interest. It is a high quality production and I would suggest that it would be well worth considering for purchase providing a suitably rewarding experience.

........................................

A note to the anonymous negative voter:

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable occasion and an enjoyable DVD 2 Feb 2014
By Precession - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
This is certainly an enjoyable recording - a concert by artists of the highest calibre in an attractive historical venue, the Spanish Hall in Prague Castle. It's to be valued more for the sense of occasion that for any individual interpretation, though. Simon Rattle has not recorded much VW - none of the symphonies, so far as I know - and doesn't seem specially attuned to it - the work comes across rather sectionalised without the commanding arch it should present, and does in the classic performances by Adrian Boult and others - including the great Czech Karel Ančerl, though most of the Prague audience would be too young to remember his performances of the work in Prague with the Czech Philharmonic back in the 1960s. But the wonderful playing by the Berlin strings can be joyfully appreciated.

Eight of Dvořák's ten Biblical Songs are presented here, three orchestrated by Dvořák and the remainder I assume in the orchestrations by Vilém Zemánek. The complete set of ten, including the two remaining songs, both orchestrated by Dvořák himself, were included in a concert the same artists gave in Berlin and issued on CD on Deutsche Grammophon - to get the complete work you should buy this CD as well. (or just download the two missing songs - see http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007X0TQ32/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp?ie=UTF8&qid=1391342772&sr=8-1) It seems rather odd that, if they were not going to include all the songs, the two omitted should be among those Dvořák chose to orchestrate himself. The details given with the DVD don't warn that the set is not complete or give details on the orchestrations, while the notes with with the DGG CD imply wrongly that all the songs were orchestrated by Zemánek. It is also not clear whether the missing songs were given at the concert but omitted from the DVD, or if the concert itself only included eight of the songs.

The Beethoven is quite beautifully played by all concerned, tho again the interpretation is comfortable rather than up with greatest recordings of the work.

The picture is clear, the camera shots of the room constant and maybe stunning.

I think the reservations about the missing songs, the overall interpretation and the documentation take away one star, buy this is a varied and attractive program, enjoyed by the audience in Prague and easy to enjoy for the listener / viewer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 5 Oct 2013
By alain laurent daniel ropa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I was very glad to buy a recording of Vaughan William's fantasy so beautifully played and recorded on bluray.The concert hall is awesome and is a big plus!
The Pastoral symphony is one of my favorites and have many recordings of it,but this one reminds me of the one I have in LP by Igor Markevitch which I treasure as my best.
A very good buy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Concerts 19 Dec 2013
By Richard R. Hays - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have fallen in love with these. Now, I have discovered that there were several made prior to this one. I want to own them all. Since I live in a small city in the Midwest, I do not have the opportunity to see such elegant surroundings, but I can vicariously participate through the DVDs. Since my family does not like my music, I wear my headphones. I am thus able to shut out my sometimes chaotic world of family and be transported into the wonderful world of classical music.

Need I say it? I crave this stuff!
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