Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nielsen, Grieg, Saint-Sa‘ns, Massenet, Fucik & Lincke

COMPOSERS: Fucik & Lincke,Grieg,Massenet,Mozart,Nielsen,Rimsky-Korsakov,Saint-Sa‘ns
LABELS: EuroArts
ALBUM TITLE: Sheherazade:an oriental night with the Berliner Philharmoniker
WORKS: various
PERFORMER: Janine Jansen (violin), Ingebjorg Kosmo (mezzo-soprano), Marita Solberg (soprano); Berlin PO/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 2055318 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Another Berlin Philharmonic outdoor concert in the vast Waldbühne (Woodland Stage) amphitheatre, this time conducted by Estonian Neeme Järvi in a popular programme full of Eastern promise. After a slightly earthbound Seraglio overture, he launches into the first of two excerpts from Nielsen’s wonderfully vigorous, highly-coloured Aladdin suite, evidently unfamiliar to the audience but well received. Centre of the programme is Rimsky’s even more refulgent Sheherazade. Järvi recorded a memorable version with the Royal Scottish NO, but this one’s even finer, less incisive than Beecham’s, but airily expansive and dramatic, the gorgeous orchestration translucent rather than cloying, and wonderfully played. Strangely, Järvi splits it across the two halves of the programme – presumably to spare this multi-generational audience’s attention span – but DVD lets us reunite them.

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In between, Järvi inserts excerpts from Peer Gynt, including the resolutely non-Oriental ‘Solveig’s Song’, with two excellent young singers. Star guest, though, is the young violin virtuoso Janine Jansen, splendidly sensuous in the Thaïs meditation and dazzlingly spirited in the urbane Saint-Saëns. After Sheherazade’s later episodes the second half closes largely with lollipops, Fucik’s Florentine March and Lincke’s Berliner Luft, traditional on these occasions; but the second Nielsen excerpt, ‘Negro Dance’, Järvi delivers with tremendous verve, to wild audience acclaim.

With sound – including Dolby and DTS surround – and picture quality much finer than EuroArts’s usual, and the twilit Waldbühne , this is very easy to enjoy.

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Michael Scott Rohan