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  Founder: Len Mullenger

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1832)
Romances 1 and 2 for Violin and Orchestra (1802 and 1798)
Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 (1812)
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891 - 1953)

Excerpts from Romeo And Juliet – Ballet (1938)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873 – 1943)

Aleko’s Cavatina from Aleko, (1893)
Anatoly Kocherga, Baritone (Rachmaninov), Kolja Blacher, Violin, (Beethoven)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Claudio Abbado.
recorded in the Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1st May 1996.
Video directed by Brian Large.
TDK DVD - ECSPE [89 minutes (main programme) + 20 minutes documentary].


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Every May Day since 1991, the Berlin Philharmonic has given a Concert in a major city within the general European area. They have chosen different conductors to lead these concerts, and Claudio Abbado has given the lion's share of these.

This is another in TDK’s series of May Day concerts, this time in the lush, highly decorative setting of the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. It represents another superb example of a video musical event, with the long tradition of artistic excellence being conjured up by the Berlin Philharmonic performing in one of the hallowed performing centres of old Russia.

Abbado chose to open the concert with a Maryinsky speciality – Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. What we have here is a very western performance of the excerpts – lush, cultured playing, very different to that normally experienced by this audience. Still, it is a superbly drilled performance, with the players giving of their best right from the beginning, and it is well received by the audience. In addition, and this is very important, the orchestra seem to be enjoying themselves with Abbado driving the playing very tightly, and with the players digging into the notes in a very impressive way; total immersion – absolutely no routine here!

We are then treated to Anatoly Kocherga singing Aleko’s Cavatina from Aleko. There is something about Russian singers in their own repertoire. This singer, born in the Ukraine is no exception. There is a richness of tone evident which many of our western singers can only attempt at a distance. Here we have the real thing, and it is well received by the audience, and this listener alike.

Having completed the Russian element, Abbado then chose Beethoven to finish off the concert. He chose the two Romances for violin and orchestra, played by the leader of the BPO, Kolja Blacher. The concert concludes with a rousing performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

Throughout the concert, the video direction by Brian Large is superb. His TV productions are well known to viewers of BBC Proms recordings and other like events.

Having completed the concert to a very appreciative audience, Abbado and his band gave a very appropriate encore – The Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky. This was first performed in St. Petersburg. The overall impression of this DVD is one of immense pleasure, and I cannot think of a higher recommendation, provided you are happy with the repertoire presented here.

John Phillips

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