This DVD contains a very nice idea – to watch a conductor
work with an orchestra to develop a performance from the first run-through
to the finished article, (or almost the finished article).
We are in Arthaus’s debt for allowing us to eavesdrop
on this work, a privilege usually only open to the "Friends of
the Philharmonia", who obviously have to be in London on the day
to witness this work. On this DVD we can now watch these artists work
together at our leisure.
On this DVD we have five chapters as follows:
- On rehearsing 1st movement
- Haydn, a neglected composer / 2nd movement
- Haydn as Conductor
- Nowadays Interpretation of Old Music / 4th Movement
The artistic balance of each chapter makes for fascinating
watching/listening. We are given Dohnanyi’s ideas on each topic interspersed
with passages of rehearsing the orchestra in preparation for a concert
(in the Philharmonia’s Haydn/Bartók Series of concerts). This
was the first Haydn Symphony these artists had played together, and
the DVD is a fascinating glimpse of the first work they had done together
on Haydn and with Christoph von Dohnanyi as Principal Conductor.
Dohnanyi’s style is to work with the orchestra, keeping
chat to a minimum, and allowing the orchestra to play. However this
does not mean a lack of discipline as some episodes show, with the offending
passage being rehearsed over and over until it is in line with the conductor’s
requirements and expectations. The discussions are illuminating, and
at one point he stresses that he likes to let the musicians play so
that he can get ideas from the players – genuinely a partnership.
Some of Dohnanyi’s views on "period performance"
are illuminating, giving us an insight into a modern big band maestro’s
approach to classical works using modern instruments.
The results speak for themselves and the players seem
to be enjoying themselves. They become more and more animated as the
rehearsal progresses, showing how they are warming to their new Conductor
A fascinating disc, but I have two closely related
criticisms about the issue. The disc only plays for a relatively short
time, and so there would have been ample space to have the completed
performance on the disc. With this addition, we would have been able
to see the end result, which of course is what it is all about.
Sound quality and video production are both very good
- no criticisms here.