RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45. MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan."
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Sir Simon Rattle, cond.
EUROARTS DVD TT: 120 min.
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'MAESTRO OR MEPHISTO"
UNITEL CLASSICS DVD 101 662 TT: 59 min.
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ANDRÉS SEGOVIA - In Portrait
CHRISTOPHER NUPEN FILMS DVD A 15CN D TT:151 min
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These Berlin Philharmonic/Sir Simon Rattle DVDs are terrific! Performances took place November 22-23, 2010 recorded live at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay in Singapore, a huge concert hall that obviously has superb acoustics. It was the Berliners first visit and obviously they were a sensation. The BPO is in top form throughout, and virtuosity of individual players is what one would expect. It is thrilling indeed at the triumphant conclusion of the Mahler when all seven French horns stand up to emphasize their bold statement. The audience response is vociferous as Rattle credits many individual players for their playing. It is very surprising that there is no encore. Why not? I experienced this program on Blu Ray, and in that format the 3-D video is subtle. There is a gentle sense of video presence, but not much. The 3D version also can be played without the 3D effect, but a Blu Ray player must be used. Audio is extraordinarily fine—those mighty Mahler climaxes will thrill audiophiles. This is an exciting release!

Of the many tributes to conductor Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997) one of the most important is this hour-long film by Andy King-Dabbs that traces the famous Hungarian's career right from the beginning when he worked in ballet and opera, and knew Bartók, Weiner and Dohnányi. A fascinating film clip shows Solti rehearsing his first Rosenkavalier in Vienna when Richard Strauss appeared, at the age of 85, to conduct a bit of the rehearsal. We have interviews with many famous artists who worked with Solti, and comments by his second wife, Lady Valerie, a charming woman of great humor. We also have many opportunities to watch the conductor in action on the podium, a churning dynamo of flailing motion—which some found distracting. This is an enjoyable and important documentary.

Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) remains the most important figure in the guitar world. Through his playing and influence, he brought the guitar to be recognized as an important instrument, and many composers wrote music for him including Villa-Lobos, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Mompou. This DVD contains two prize-winning films by Christopher Nupen: Segovia at Los Olivos filmed in the artist's home on the Costa del Sol in Andalucia in 1967 when he was 75, and the second, The Song of the Guitar, filmed in Granada and Palaces of the Alhambra when Segovia was 84. Christopher Nupen introduces both telling of circumstances leading to their production. These are lovely, respectful scenes of the greatest guitar player ever, beautifully filmed and well recorded in stereo. I can still remember a half century ago (!) when Segovia appeared as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony. This distinguished gentle man captivated his audience with his demeanor, superb playing and dedication to music. It was a memorable concert, the only time I experienced Segovia's artistry in person. This superb new DVD brought back many memories. A great DVD!

R.E.B. (March 2013)