TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. Overture in F. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 44.
Mikhail Pletnev, pianist; Moscow Radio Symphony Orch/Vladimir Fedoseyev, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD VIDEO 102 129 TT: 104 min.

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49.
Viktor Tretyakov, violinist; Moscow Radio Symphony Orch/Vladimir Fedoseyev, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD VIDEO 102 127 TT: 103 min.

BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Pierre Boulez, cond.
EUROARTS DVD VIDEO 2056098 TT: 40 min + 28 min. documentary

The Arthaus Musik DVD Tchaikovsky Cycle has two brilliant winners here. Vladimir Fedoseyev conducts the excellent Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra in an extraordinary performance of Symphony No. 5, and a very good one of Symphony No. 4. Mikhail Pletnev, at the time just beginning his spectacular career, gives a stunning performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2, presented in its complete form, with violin and cello soloists taking front stage for their important parts in the second movement. Viktor Tretyakov's performance of the Violin Concerto is of equal caliber. The relatively unknown Overture in F contrasts greatly with the familiar 1812 Festival Overture.which is played with all stops out. No cannon here, but the percussion section gets a grand workout in the final pages, particularly the bells. These are not new recordings; the copyright date is 1991, but the sonic and picture quality are first-rate, with sound coming from all speakers, even though it really isn't true surround. Both DVDs are highly recommended!

Arthaus Musik has their Classical Masterpieces series of performances with explanatory documentary; Euroarts has their Discovering Masterpieces series one of which is this performance of Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra with Pierre Boulez and the Berlin Philharmonic. The performance was recorded in Lisbon May 1, 2003 at the Monastery of Saint Jerome. This was the BPO's annual European Concert given each year in a different venue. Boulez is a master of this repertory, and the Berlin Philharmonic is in top form. The cavernous acoustics have been well-tamed by the engineering team, and this is a worthy performance. However, the "documentary" isn't much and is less than a half-hour. This same performance has been issued previously on Euroarts DVD (2053078) which also contains the remainder of the program: Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 with Maria-Joao Pires, and Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin. Surely this is the one to get. One wonders why Euroarts didn't include the "documentary" on the earlier release—it easily would have fit.

R.E.B. (November 2007)