MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of a Thousand."
Manuela Uhl, Julianna Di Giacomo, Kiera Duffy, sopranos; Anna Larsson, Charlotte Hellekant, contraltos; Burkhardt Fritz, tenor; Brian Mulligan, baritone; Alexander Vinogradov, bass; Coro Sinfónico Juvenil Simón Bolivar de Venezuela; Niños Cantores de Venezuela; Schola Cantorum de Venezuela; Schola Juvenil de Venezuela; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orch/Simón Bolivar Symphony Orch/Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD VIDEO TT: 90 min. + 18 min. bonus
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WAGNER: Rienzi Overture. STRAUSS: Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65.
Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Andris Nelsons, cond.
C MAJOR DVD 710004 TT: 100 min.
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BEETHOVEN: Overture to The Ruins of Athens, Op.113. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor." CHOPIN: Etude in F, Op. 10 No. 8. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade, Op. 35. DVORÁK: Slavonic Dance in A flat, Op. 46 No. 3.
Yefim Bronfman, piano/Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Andris Nelsons, cond.
C MAJOR DVD 710108 TT: 110 min
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This doubtless is the performance of Mahler's gigantic Symphony No. 8 that is closest to what the composer intended. Called Symphony of a Thousand, it here has a double orchestra and huge choral groups as outlined above, a total of about 1,400 performers. Two performances were given in the Los Angeles Disney Center, and two in Venezuela, February 17-18, 2012. What is seen on this remarkable DVD is a secure, powerful performance of Mahler's masterpiece, with Dudamel in total control. Soloists are excellent, and the choruses are magnificent, totally dedicated to their herculean task. Many saw this performance when it was shown in theaters in the U. S. and Canada; now we have this thrilling experience to enjoy at home. It is a thrilling experience. Video is excellent—what a sight it is to see that huge mass of performers! Sonically this is adequate, but not the aural display spectacle it could have been. An important release!

Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons (b.1978) plays piano and trumpet, and studied conducting with Neemiu Järvi and Jorma Panula. He came to the attention of Mariss Jansons and has studied with him for the past decade. A specialist in opera, he was principal conductor of the Latvian Opera for several years, and in 2009 conducted Turandot at the Met. Nelsons made his Bayreuth debut in 2010 conducting Lohengrin. Since that time, he has been guest conductor of many major orchestras andin 2007 he was appointed principal conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He seems to be a favorite in Amsterdam, and recently I saw on Radio Nederland a spectacular concert Nelsons conducted that featured Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 5 with Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Let us hope that might appear on DVD—it was sensational. Nelsons was chosen to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw in two concerts at the Lucerrne Festival, and both are now available on DVD. The concert September 4, 2011 was a rather odd program: Rienzi Overture, the Dance from Salome, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8 which receives one of the finest performances you will ever hear. The following night's concert presented Yefim Bronfman in Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 along with the overture mentioned above, and Scheherazade. Bronfman is an imposing figure at the keyboard and he gives a magnificent performance of this mighty concerto, and rewards the insistent audience with a glowing account of a Chopin Etude. Scheherazade is a showcase for players of the RCOA and they are given total freedom by Nelsons; there playing is stunning, and all take well-deserved solo bows. Video is excellent, audio less-so. Although the sound is good enough, there is llittle surround effect. These are welcome releases!