I'm updating my review for this DVD. The Amazon people have it wrong, this DVD IS NOT coded Region 2, IT IS CODED REGION 0 ( WORLDWIDE ), so it will play on any DVD player in the world. I went to my local Borders Store the other day to investigate. I found this DVD and sure enough it had the proper codes. I bought it and it works perfectly in my Region 1, North American DVD player, so it should obviously work for you too. Seriously, Amazon should be more careful about their listing to make sure they don't put in the wrong information!
This DVD is great and a total delight for fans of Herbert von Karajan and fans of conducting or music in general. Karajan is filmed doing a very thorough rehearsal of Schumann's 4th Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, then you get a full performance of this Symphony. Karajan's performances of Schumann were always notable, this is another exceptional account of this Romantic score.
The second half of this DVD program focuses on Beethoven's 5th with the Berlin Philharmonic. We are initially given a brief interview with Karajan as he sits at a piano, after that there is an extended sequence where Karajan tutors a young conducting student through some basic material in the second movement of the Symphony. Following this tutorial demonstration, we are given a full performance of the 5th, a very hot-blooded, typically dramatic interpretation from Karajan.
The wonder of these filmed rehearsals and performances is the casual, charismatic nature of Karajan and the way everything is filmed is exceptional. The director is the famous French filmmaker, Henri-Georges Clouzot, director of classic films "Wages of Fear" and "Diabolique", among others. Clouzot brings his wonderful, involved filming style to these Karajan rehearsals and performances. The black and white cinematography is very beautiful and the editing is perfect, just goes hand in hand with the amazing music making. All the instrumentalists get the chance to show off their skills onscreen and there are plenty of wide angle shots to showcase the entire orchestra. The way the camera moves and glides with the music is a testament to Clouzot and what a master of his craft he was, just like the conductor was of his. Karajan is the star obviously but he is not unduly concentrated upon to the detriment of the musicians. Clouzot's filming style is practically perfect. If you are a fan of Karajan or conducting, this is a must own DVD because it gives you another perspective on Karajan, the fact that he wasn't just some egomaniac but instead a truly gifted communicator, a musician completely at the service of the great art of music!