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Berliner Philharmonic / Yutaka Sado: From Me Flows What You Call Time (EUROARTS 2058744) [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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This production is a Charity Concert for the victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster from March 11th 2011. The profit generated will be donated to a special section of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS), which was especially founded for earthquake victims: Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami, and will therefore be distributed directly among the population affected. Immediate help for the Japanese people in need is thus guaranteed. With this concert Yutaka Sado makes his Philharmonic debut and will be the first Japanese to conduct the renowned orchestra since Seiji Ozawa several years ago. Critics have unanimously hailed Yutaka Sado as one of the most enthralling and charismatic conductors of the new generation. The long-time assistant of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa was awarded the most important conductors prizes, e.g. the Premier Grand Prix at the 39th International Conducting Competition and the Grand Prix du Concours International L. Bernstein Jerusalem.
What matters in this performance is the intensity of the sonorities that the orchestra so attentively yields up to the conductor: waltzes with operetta-like flair, brilliant pizzicatos, a tranquil Largo. An interpretation full of vim and vitality. --Der Tagesspiegel
..an invitation to listen hard and lose yourself in sound and time. The harder you listen, the further you lose yourself. --Gramophone,Mar'12
Performance is unquestionably beyond words. Performance**** Picture & Sound ***** Extras *** --BBC Music Magazine, Mar'12
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This aspect is apparent right from the start with a powerful initial movement. In contrast to that raw power the following scherzo is remarkable for a strongly improvisational character. This is very apparent with the solo violin section and this is continued by the answering woodwind. The slow movement is intense and the tonal resources of this very fine orchestra are fully brought to bear here. The last movement is powerfully dramatic with an ending that keeps a tight rein on the tempo which is held back as Shostakovich himself requested. In my opinion therefore, I would give this performance an unreserved recommendation and one which I feel will hold its place against any of the recent available competition.
I am not really familiar with the work of Takemitsu. Suffice it to say that it kept my attention throughout - but whether this was mainly the result of novelty value which may not be sustained upon repeat viewings or something rather deeper musically remains to be seen/heard. (Both responses seem relevant in this case, it being a visually strong work which would probably not transfer so well to an audio only medium).
Otherwise terrific in all respects with clear and truthful imaging coupled with camera work that sustains interest without being invasive. The sound is wide ranging and is presented in good quality DTS 5.1 as well as stereo. Musically this seems to be a 5 star issue to be ranked with the very best. As such it is bound to impress and reward purchasers and as such it seems totally reasonable to award this disc a 5 star rating.
Occasionally, I get an opportunity to hear music, or a performance, or to see a film that is so good that I have trouble finding the best words to share my enthusiasm. This is one of those cases.
Conductor Yutaka Sado's first performance with the Berlin Philharmoniker was a concert to raise funds for relief efforts following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. The program that Sado chose was unique: From me flows what you call time, by Toru Takemitsu, is rarely performed, and is difficult work to play, calling for highly skilled percussionists. Following this was Shostakovitch's 5th symphony.
My interest in this disc stems from a long love of Takemitsu's music. From me flows what you call time was commissioned by Carnegie Hall in 1990 for its centenary celebrations. Featuring five percussionists and orchestra, it could be termed a concerto for percussion and orchestra. (Takemitsu wrote no works called "concerto" or "symphony".) It begins with a haunting, Japanese-style melody on solo flute (played by Emmanuel Pahud, who plays with the Berlin Philharmoniker.) Then the five percussionists enter the hall through five different doors, and walk slowly to the stage playing timbals. Each is wearing a different coloured shirt: blue, red, yellow, green and white. These colours are those found in the Tibetan flag, and symbolize water, fire, earth, wind and sky. There are also long ribbons from either side of the stage to hanging bells suspended from the roof of the hall; each side has a set of five ribbons in the same colors.
When the percussionists get to the stage, the work truly begins, with waves of sound from the orchestra in Takemitsu's signature style, interspersed with playing by the percussionists. For more than thirty minutes, this back and forth goes on, with the percussion instruments taking longer parts, and using more varied instruments. Everything is there: talking drums, singing bowls, hanging bells and dozens of other percussion instruments. There are several sections where the percussionists improvise around a loosely grouped series of notes.
And then it ends.
As I said, finding the words to describe this is difficult, but if I had to choose one for this work, it would be: riveting. For more than a half hour, I found myself absorbed in the complex, variegated sound world that Takemitsu had created. But it was more than the sound; seeing this work being performed, seeing the vast range of instruments, the colours, and the expressions on the faces of the musicians, who were clearly enjoying this work, was very moving. At the end, the huge smile on Yutaka Sado's face, and the rapturous applause, suggested that everyone had shared in this unique moment.
After an intermission came Shostakovich's 5th Symphony. I find myself unqualified to discuss this work, which I do not know very well, but I had goose bumps as the work came to an end. The sheer energy and passion of the orchestra was astounding. Seeing Yutaka Sado drenched in sweat, yet occasionally breaking out in a childish smile was touching.
Everything on this disc is as good as it gets. The music, notably the rarely performed, and rarely recorded work by Takemitsu. Excellent musicians, and a conductor who gave all his energy in this concert. Excellent camerawork, lighting, direction and video quality. And perhaps the finest sound I've head on a Blu-Ray disc; the recording of both of these works has nearly perfect balance and detail.
After I finished watching this disc, I immediately went back to the beginning to watch the Takemitsu again. I hope you will too.
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