Nobel Prize Concert
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Festive Overture Op.96
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano concerto in G Op.83
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurka in C Op.24 No.2
Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Suites Nos.1 and 2 from Romeo and Juliet Opp.64 bis & 64 ter (excerpts)
Martha Argerich (piano)
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
rec. live, Stockholm Concert Hall, 8 December 2009
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
EUROARTS DVD 2057898 [80:00]

Each year a concert is given in Stockholm to mark the distribution of Nobel prizes. The programme for 2009 was recorded live and consists of popular Russian and French music which would not have taxed the grey cells of the assembled brains or the Swedish royalty in attendance. Under the batonless and diminutive figure of Yuri Temirkanov, the music speeds along, belying his three score and ten years. Indeed his podium manner is something of a distraction, his technique more like preparing wallpaper with paste on a plank between ladders if you follow my description. The results, however, are electrifying. The Swedish players - and probably a host of others in the many orchestras with which he is associated - clearly love him. He has that whimsical smile playing around his lips which one associates with Rozhdesventsky, but woe betide anyone who needs a downbeat; all they’ll see is a sideswipe. The playing is fabulous from all departments, cor anglais, flute, harp, horn, trumpet and trombone in the Ravel; all those plus a host more in the Prokofiev. Martha Argerich, also a septuagenarian in a year’s time, is hugely impressive in a magnificently clear and clean account of the concerto, followed by a wonderfully understated rendition of a Chopin mazurka as an encore. The Prokofiev ballet music burns with passion and zips along at a furious pace in anything marked Allegro or faster, while the Shostakovich gets the programme underway in a blaze of brass and in true festive fashion.

Direction is traditional with cameras zooming in predictably on solo instrumentalists. Temirkanov’s antics make him hugely photogenic, while Argerich’s fingers, if not her hair-do, are a revelation. As a musician she cuts a modest, humble figure, which she is.

Christopher Fifield