A commemorative video of Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Britten,Caccini,Dutilleux,Liebermann,Messiaen,Praetorius,Rihm and Zimmermann,Wagner
ALBUM TITLE: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
WORKS: Works by Beethoven, Dutilleux, Britten, Caccini, Liebermann, Messiaen, Praetorius, Wagner, Rihm and Zimmermann (DVD)
PERFORMER: Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (soprano), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (mezzo-soprano), Pavol Breslik (tenor), Bryn Terfel (bass), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Iveta Apkalna (organ); Ensemble Praetorius; NDR Choir; Bavarian Radio Choir; NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra/ Thomas Hengelbrock
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 741408; Blu-ray: 741504


In January this year, after a seven-year delay on construction and an overspend of half a billion euros, the new Elbphilharmonie building in Hamburg finally hosted its opening concert. The story of that evening is told in this commemorative video. For an overview, it’s best to start with the hour-long bonus documentary on the hall’s 17-year journey from conception to completion. Although detailed analysis of the contractual wrangling which dogged the ‘Elphi’ project is avoided, the film usefully illustrates the architectural challenges involved in making a world-class concert venue from a superannuated, pier-end warehouse on the Elbe river.

The finished product, its glassy, wave-form outline glistening against the Hamburg skyline, is an undeniably striking creation. There was boldness, too, at the opening concert, which flipped dramatically across six centuries of musical history, from pieces with a single performer to those requiring the full NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Elphi’s resident ensemble.

There are plenty of musical highlights – oboist Kalev Kuljus’s exquisite ‘Pan’, from Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid; a lithe, light-textured finale from Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony; and the rumbling, inflammable Photopsosis of Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, on wavery form, sings two gorgeous Renaissance arias, and Bryn Terfel anchors the choral movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

The recorded sound is dry in places, which may not reflect the situation in the hall itself. All told, this video is a tantalising advertisement for the new venue, and puts it high on my bucket list of places to visit. 

Terry Blain