Europakonzert 16: the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Brustad,Grieg,Mendelssohn
LABELS: EuroArts DVD
ALBUM TITLE: Europakonzert 16
WORKS: Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Brustad: Veslefrikk; Grieg: Evening in the Mountains
PERFORMER: Vilde Frang (violin); Berlin Philharmonic/Sir Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 2061488; Blu-Ray: 2061484

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Every year the Berlin Philharmonic marks its birthday (1 May 1892) with a concert. In 2016 the world-renowned orchestra headed to Norway for the occasion – to the town of Røros, where there’s a light, airy Baroque church whose interior, with its balcony tiers above the pews, is rather reminiscent of a small theatre. It’s an appealing backdrop on this rather strangely filmed DVD, which intercuts more traditional close-up and overhead shots of the musicians and orchestra with a roaming camera that stalks up and down the central aisle and zooms in on the performers in rather alarming fashion. But, that aside, this is a gorgeous programme, richly performed. Mendelssohn and Beethoven are at its core, but the Berlin Philharmonic makes a small nod to its Norwegian hosts in the form of Grieg’s Evening in the Mountains (from his Lyric Pieces).

This technically impeccable and radiant performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto was actually Vilde Frang’s debut with the orchestra, and she seems right at home. Every interesting detail is drawn out of the score, her freshness of approach matched by the always characterful Berlin musicians.

Simon Rattle has recently recorded all the Beethoven symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic – a key part of his legacy before he leaves for London later this year – but there’s little sense of going over old territory in this Beethoven Eroica. In fact, there is if anything even more life in this performance, with a particularly wonderful sense of tension in the second movement.

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Rebecca Franks