This European Concert
is part of a series given by the Berlin Philharmonic in European venues of particular cultural significance: St Irene has the distinction of being the oldest church in Istanbul. These days it may be about as fashionable to play Haydn symphonies with a full orchestra as it is to venture out into the street wearing real fur, but the BPO are so well-disciplined that the results are never outlandish.
Mariss Jansons may not be particularly known in this repertoire but its obvious that hes having a whale of a time, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Forces are reduced for the Mozart, and Emmanuel Pahud is reunited with his old orchestra (he was appointed Principal Flute at the prodigiously young age of 22). Its easy to understand why hes the top dog of his generation: his sound is ravishing and his phrasing is effortless; he breathes new life (literally) into this much-loved bon-bon. For the Berlioz, the orchestra is back up to full strength, Jansons powering his way through this extraordinary masterpiece, the colours dazzling, the harps placed unusually to the front of the orchestra (and to great effect in the second-movement Ball scene). The warmth of the audience reaction at the end says it all.
On the DVD: European Concert--Istanbul features pleasingly unobtrusive camera-work that avoids the temptation to spotlight individual players for the sake of it and offers a good perspective on the sheer scale of the venue. The sound is full and well-balanced and the concert is enhanced by an enticing 20-minute travelogue of Istanbul (narrated in German but with subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish or Italian). In addition, there are eight minutes of "behind the scenes" footage which is worth seeing once, and details of other TDK titles.--Harriet Smith
Behind the Scenes documentary
A portrait of Istanbul
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: GB, D, F, SP, IT
Region code: 0 (worldwide)