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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent playing by Hélène Grimaud, 26 July 2010
This review is from: A Russian Night [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
A Russian Night [DVD] [2009] was recorded live at the Lucerne Festival in 2008. The program included The Tempest by Tchaikovsky, The Firebird by Stravinsky and last, but not least, Piano Concerto no. 2 by Rachmaninov. Soloist in the concerto was the French pianist Hélène Grimaud and this was her first concert DVD. Hélène Grimaud has in the last few years established herself in the top rank of the world's pianists with an artistic expression of the highest order. Apart from this outstanding performance some of her concerts can be seen on YouTube, where my first experience was her best ever playing in Chaconne in d minor by Bach-Busoni. This was an overwhelming event for me and some of my friends as well. We should be grateful to Hélène Grimaud for her high standards. The performance of The Firebird is also of high order.
The only drawback is too much focus on the conductor in the Rachmaninov, where the fingering of Hélène Grimaud would have been more appropriate.
Jorgen Lyngbye, Denmark. Contact E-mail: jin@c.dk
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is beautiful to see her, 1 Jun 2012
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Bernd Kotz (Essen, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Russian Night [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This DVD is a great concert. At first your blood gets stir up. The kettledrums and wind section raise a storm. The slow section of the suite by Tchaikovsky reminds me of some chords of Eugene Onegin. After that the highlight of the DVD begins second piano concert by Rachmaninoff. It is a great interpretation. I had seen player the concert with lesser intensity. The interaction between the piano and the orchestra is very good. It reminds me like a trip to the county. It is a romantic concert also. In the second movement you have dreamy sequences. The fire bird is one of the best pieces for orchestra by Stravinsky. It is s visual depiction of the art and gives you a better entrance as a CD can do it. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is composed of members of the Mahler Camber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble Sabine Mayer and the Hagen Quartet. The DVD includes a five minute Interview with Helene Grimaud.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This disc needs to be played at a higher volume setting to fully come alive, 6 Dec 2011
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Russian Night [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This recording pairing the fine Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Abbado comes from 2008. The producer is Paul Smaczny as is often the case at this venue but the recording company marketing it is DGG rather than EuroArts or Smaczny's own company, Accentus. This may be a factor as regards the playback level described below. The concert program revisits two of Abbado's favourites previously recorded on DVD by Abbado with the BPO. They are the Tempest and the Firebird suite.

The concert opens with Tchaikovsky's Tempest which was a very popular work during Tchaikovsky's lifetime. Since then it has become overshadowed by similar works such as the fantasy overtures Romeo & Juliet, Francesca da Rimini and, to a lesser extent, Hamlet. The Tempest, however, is also a very fine work and well worth getting to know. The opening horn calls over rolled bass drum can be a spine-tingling moment and are a foretaste of many such telling touches of orchestration to be found throughout the piece. All of these are fully explored in this performance which is superior to the earlier one which Abbado conducted in Sweden, fine though that was.

The Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2 follows and Helene Grimaud makes her debut performance with Abbado with this work which she has recently included in her regular repertoire after a prolonged absence. This used to be a favourite work for her but she felt that there was a need to give it a break to refresh herself. This she does admirably in the performance, making light of the various technical and musical challenges.

The concert concludes with The Firebird suite heard here in its full orchestration rather than the version for reduced orchestra. Abbado did a splendid version of this piece in Japan with the BPO and that remains a very special event indeed with his orchestra on particularly fine form. However, this performance is very fine too and the recording brings out the details of the score very well. This is a less exciting account but it is also more clarified on matters of detail.

The camera work is well up to Smaczny's normal standards which always show his complete understanding of the score. Imaging is very crisp. The sound is presented in DTS 5.1 and stereo. This is much more of a problem as it appears to have been processed at a particularly low level. When played back at normal volume levels the recording lacks the depth so essential to the orchestration of the Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky pieces especially and the whole effect is dull and lifeless. This, I found, to be very disappointing indeed. However the problem is easily remedied by increasing the playback volume level considerably by several decibels. This would normally be enough to blow me out of the room but in this case it simply makes the whole concert come alive at what would now be at normal playback volume levels.

Provided that playback is set at a higher level than usual as described above, this disc should give plenty of pleasure to purchasers. Without that adjustment it is likely to be a disappointment. For this reason alone I feel that the 5th star should be withheld and therefore a fair rating would seem to be 4 stars on this occasion.
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A Russian Night [DVD] [2009]
A Russian Night [DVD] [2009] by Abbado / Grimaud (DVD - 2009)
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