MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
Ricarda Merbeth, soprano; Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano; Netherlands Radio Choir; Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Mariss Jansons, cond.
'MUSIC IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART AND SOUL" - A Portrait of Mariss Jansons, a film by Robert Neuymüler
C MAJOR BLU RAY VIDEO 709804 TT: 142 min (concert: 90 min./Documentary: 52 min.)

FAURÉ: Requiem. Pavane in F# minor, Op. 50. Élégie in C minor, Op. 24.Super flumina Babylonis. Cantique de Jean Racine in D flat, Op. 11.
Chen Reiss, soprano; Matthias Goerne, baritone; Eric Picard, cello; Paris Opera Chorus and Orch/Paavo Järvi, cond.
EUROARTS BLU RAY VIDEO 58874 TT: 72 min. + 12 min. bonus

TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin
Bo Skovhus (Eugene Onegin). Andrej Dunaev (Lensky). Mikhail Petrenko (*Prince Gremin). Krassimira Stoyanova (Tatyana). Elena Maxinova (Olga). Olga Savova (Larina); Netherlands Opera Orch/Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Mariss Jansons, cond.
OPUS ARTE BLU RAY VIDEO OA BD7100 TT: 151 min. + 30 min. bonus

This DVD of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 is the same performance recently issued on two SACDs on the RCOA label that also included a DVD (REVIEW). And the same performance is going to be reissued again, as the RCOA series soon will issue on Blu Ray DVD of all of the Mahler symphonies with various conductors including, of course, this Resurrection. The new issue pairs it with a documentary on the life of conductor Mariss Jansons. This "portrait," a film by Robert Neumüler, relates the conductor's early life including a few historic video clips from the days when Jansons worked with Herbert von Karajan. We also see him in rehearsal with the RCOA and the Bavarian Radio Symphony of which he also is music director. It seems odd this new issue doesn't couple the documentary with other repertory. Probably most collectors will get the new set when it is issued, so the only reason to get this latest issue is for the 52-minute documentary. And it is issued at premium price. Do you want to pay that much for the documentary?

Paavo Järvi was appointed music director of the Orchestra of Paris last season. This DVD recorded February 10, 2011 features a concert of music of Gabriel Fauré filmed in Salle Pleyel. The Requiem is an exquisite masterpiece, the composer's effort to show death as a comforting event without the terror of the day of wrath so vividly depicted by Verdi and Berlioz in their requiems. The Requiem here is coupled with four other works by Fauré, and together they make a very pleasant if rather short program. Chen Reiss is the radiant soprano soloist in Pie Jesu, and baritone Matthias Goerne has the perfect voice for the Offertorium and Libera me. Video is excellent, but audio hardly takes advantage of the multiple channels of surround sound. A 12 minute mini-lecture by Järvi is the "bonus." No printed texts, but there are subtitles. The same program with the same soloists except for countertenor Philippe Juroussky singing the soprano solo has also been issued on a Virgin Classics CD.

This video of Eugene Onegin has a lot going for it. It has the luxury of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons in the pit, and a superb cast, particularly Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana. Video is stunning, audio OK even though not really surround. The problem is the Netherlands Opera elected to have young Norwegian Stefan Herheim as director. Herheim already has shown his disrespect for composers and their operas with his treatment of Rusalka and Abduction from the Seraglio. Now he has turned to Tchaikovsky, deciding the composer didn't know what he was doing. Throughout this performance, Bo Skovhus as Onegin wanders sometimes aimlessly around the stage, often with a puzzled look on his face (understandably). And for some bizarre reason, Herheim has decided that Tatyana doesn't write her famous letter, Onegin does, as she looks over his shoulder. At one point, Prince Gremin is head of the Russian Mafia. Sets and costumes, by Philipp Fürhofer and Gesine Völlm, are colorful. There are many movable panels, windows and mirrors moved into different positions by those on stage. In a bonus video hosted by Hans Haffmans, genial commentator for Radio Nederlaned'w rin4 lIG4 At The Concertgebouw series, Herheim is interviewed about his concept of the opera and attempts to justify his choices. Mariss Jansons also is interviewed and he seems quite dubious about the director's ideas, but goes along with it. This video has much to offer visually, but it really isn't what Tchaikovsky intended. It's interesting that at the curtain calls (the audience loved it!), there does not seem to be a solo bow by Herheim - perhaps it was edited out because of negative response?

R.E.B.(May 2012)