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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Mahler and astonishing Prokofiev by Yuja Wang, 11 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Mahler; Prokoviev: Lucerne Festival: Mahler: Symphony No. 1; Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3) [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free] [NTSC] (Blu-ray)
Abbado has the enviable reputation of being one of the world's finest Mahler conductors. This has been further reinforced by his set of performances held at Lucerne with his hand-picked orchestra constituting the Lucerne Festival orchestra.

This very large orchestra, apart from containing musicians of outstanding individual abilities, also lays great stress upon their empathy and experience with the world of chamber music. Thus is achieved the unusual combination of orchestral size allied to individual and corporate sensitivity. This suits Abbado's particular vision of Mahler and this is apparent throughout this recording which many would describe as close to definitive.

The upcoming series planned by Chailly, also on Blu-ray, might become a serious competitor to Abbado however. Chailly's Mahler 2 and 8 are now available. Some find Chailly preferable as an approach - being a degree less overtly emotional and more orchestrally cohesive rather than sharing Abbado's expanded chamber music approach perhaps. I personally find both approaches equally satisfying in their different ways (see my Chailly review of Mahler 2 for further details).

The Prokofiev for me however, is the complete revelation. Yuja Wang brings an astonishing level of artistic and technical perfection to this piece - and especially and unusually - sheer joy! Like Sarah Chang, the violinist, her delight in the music and her performance is illustrated time and time again by fleeting expressions and smiles of pleasure or amusement flitting across her face. No technical worries here, even at times of breakneck speed. A tremendous range of expression from delicacy to incisive power and all with total rhythmic mastery. I own a considerable number of versions of this work on disc, including all the reference recordings, and this one matches any. You also have the advantage of seeing it!

The generously spacious layout of the orchestra allows the camera work to achieve equivalent sensitivity of detail as well as panoramic effect. The surround and stereo sound captures all of this with admirable lucidity.

In my opinion this is a clear contender for the full 5 stars and should give much pleasure and satisfaction to all purchasers of the recording.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jan 2012 00:31:32 GMT
Another excellent I.Giles Review! It's a pleasure to read them, and definitely expands my appreciation of the Performances.

Did you notice that the Orchestra was going absolutely full tilt trying to keep up with Yuja Wang? I think The Oldest Violinist, sitting at the end of the Piano Keyboard, looked a little disgruntled at the end of the Performance...like myself, he probably was thinking of Shakespeare's: "All Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing!"

I just love Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Ballet Music, but apart from being a wonderful opportunity for a Virtuoso Pianist, this Concerto does not thrill me. First and Last Movements sound to me like Parisian Traffic going round and round the Arc de Triomphe, and the slow movement is the only saving grace! It is brilliantly composed, but just doesn't appeal to my taste.

Of course, Mahler 1 is well worth The Price of Admission, and makes an interesting contrast with the Michael Tilson-Thomas/SFO Blu-Ray Mahler 1 which is part of the "MAHLER - Origins and Legacy" twin disc set.

Best Wishes

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2012 03:58:36 GMT
I. Giles says:
I think I first got to hear the Prokofiev about 45-50 years ago and, so far as I remember, I did not initially warm to the composer's sound world. I struggled with a number of other firm favourites then. I clearly remember finding Brahms and Elgar's Violin Concertos difficult and also Bartok's second Violin Concerto etc. for example! All of these have long been firm and oft-repeated favourites with many competing/complementary recordings collected over the years. I am very fond of the Prokofiev concerto here and also enjoy his ballets and those operas that I have heard. Betrothal in a Monastery is an amusing satire that you may like with an early Netrebko (but not Blu-ray). Best wishes, Ian.
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