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 directed the lion's share of these.
This is another in TDK’s series of May Day concerts,
this time against the lush, highly decorative backdrop of the Maryinsky
Theatre in St. Petersburg. This is another superb example of a video
musical event, with a 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 well immersed in giving of their
best right from the beginning. It is well received by the audience.
In addition, and this is very important, the orchestra seem also to
be enjoying themselves with Abbado driving the playing very tightly,
and with the players digging into the notes in a very impressive way.
Absolutely no hint of 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 and 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. This is
was well received by the audience, and this listener alike.
Having completed the Russian part of the concert, Abbado
then chose Beethoven to finish off the concert, giving the two romances
for violin and orchestra, played by the leader of the BPO, Kolja Blacher,
and rounding off the concert with a rousing performance of Beethoven’s
Throughout the whole concert, the video direction by
Brian Large is superb. His productions are well known to us watchers
of BBC Proms recordings and other like music productions.
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 which was first performed in
St. Petersburg. The overall impression of this DVD is one of immense
pleasure, and provided you are happy with the repertoire presented I
cannot think of a higher recommendation.