Barenboim: Staatsoper Unter Den Linden in Berlin 1998

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Liszt & Wagner,Schumann
LABELS: TDK
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: DV-UNDE

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Each of these DVDs relives a recent Berlin Philharmonic performance under Daniel Barenboim. The first is the 1997 Mayday European Concert at the Opera Royal, Versailles.

Barenboim conducts the four updated Baroque dances of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin at breezy, effervescent speeds which suit the frothy, gilt surroundings. He directs from the keyboard with an effortless, throwaway touch Mozarts rumbustious, timps-and-trumpets C major Piano Concerto, K415, and concludes with a stern but not heavy interpretation of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

There is an impatient strain to the funeral march which seems to want to usher in early the scherzo’s euphoria and finale’s exuberant Napoleonic Romance. Neat connections between the programme, performers and palace arc elucidated in an informative Cerman documentary (with subtitles).

The second concert is from 1998 at the Staatsoper Untcr den Linden, Berlin. Barenboim conducts a thrilling account of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony: the scherzo has conversational lightness and the galloping finale is a model of tight control.

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The soloists in Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns execute their leaping arpeggios with tally-ho panache, Liszt’s symphonic poem Les preludes is spoiled by tinny cymbals, but Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries is a triumphant finale. If I had to take one it would be the Berlin event. Rick Jones