Zubin Mehta: Live in front of the Grand Palace
I watched the DVD of this outdoor concert in Bangkok after having listened with mixed reactions to the same release on CD (see p73). As it turns out, the visual perspectives go some way towards explaining why the sound both on CD and DVD is so problematic. First and foremost, the Israel Philharmonic is placed some distance away from the audience on a platform which is backed by some kind of Perspex glass. This arrangement enables us to view the orchestra playing against the stunning background of the Grand Palace as well as a disconcertingly continuous stream of traffic which appears near the top of the screen. Fortunately the DVD’s production team has not chosen to suppress audience response at the end of each work, as was the case on the CD, but the resultant time delay in applause only serves to corroborate the orchestra’s evident difficulty in achieving more direct communication with the listeners.
Camera shots mainly focus on Zubin Mehta who delivers characteristically flamboyant and committed conducting, especially in the Brahms which seems to project a greater sense of emotional turmoil than on the CD. It’s a pity however that the filming of the orchestra is rather haphazard with close-ups of individual musicians not always corresponding to the instruments that are prominent at any particular moment. I would also have thought that the producers would have saw fit to edit a rather bizarre moment during the slow movement cadenza of the Mozart where Mehta seems to be breaking conventional concert etiquette by momentarily walking off the platform.