MOZART: Symphony No. 39 in E flat, K. 543. TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. DEBUSSY: Fétes from Three Nocturnes
Chicago Symphony Orch/Sir Georg Solti, cond.
ICA CLASSICS DVD 5100 TT: 83:03
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BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40.
Mitsuko Uchida, piano. Bavarian Radio Symphony Orch/Mariss Jansons, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD TT: 95 min
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STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suitel. Le sacre du printemps. DEBUSSY: Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun.
Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi, cond.
ELECTRIC PICTURE DVD EPC068D TT: 74 min.
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Here's another opportunity to watch the energetic conducting style of Sir George Solti as he vigorously shapes the music, even if it is Mozart. This concert was recorded in London's Royal Festival Hall February 2, 1985, at the end of the CSO's fifth European tour. DVD notes by producer Humphrey Burton (who previously had been involved in many Solti videos) tell of preparations for the video, with comments about the conductor and members of the orchestra. After a brisk performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 39 we have a virtuoso reading of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 displaying the Orchestra's magnificent brass section. As an generous encore, we have Festivals from Debussy's Nocturnes. It seems odd whe the opening work on the program, Corigliano's Tournaments Overture, isn't included. The stereo sound is excellent, with fine video as well. An excellent issue.

It's always a pleasure to watch Mariss Jansons conduct, and here we have a concert recorded in Munich's Gasteig concert hall on a date identified only as "2011." Mitsuko Uchida, garbed in iridescent blue attire, is a splendid soloist in Beethoven's Concerto No. 3, but the feature is the dramatic reading of Strauss's A Hero's Life, which shows the fine Munich orchestra at its best. It's a big-scale, grand reading, even more impressive for the effective camera work that misses none of the important solo passages—camera work is exemplary. Audio also is impressive. Another outstanding orchestral release! This is the conductor's second video of the Strauss; a performance from 2004 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orhestra also exists (REVIEW).

Paavo Järvi has been music director of Orchestre de Paris for three years, and his tenure has been a triumphant success. He has taken the venerable French orchestra on many acclaimed tours, and will remain conductor of the orchestra until at least 2016. This video features performances from two concerts. The suite from Firebird is from concerts September 12-13, 2012, Sacre and the Debussy encore from concerts November 7-8, 2012. This orchestra has come a long way from its earliest days (it was founded in 1965 by Charles Munch, replacing the Paris Conservatory Orchestra) The orchestra is now first-class in every way, and has an elegant appearance—members are "dressed by" Jean-Louis Scherrer. About a decade ago, Järvi made fine recordings for Telarc of the two Stravinsky works with the Cincinnati Symphony. These new versions are often exciting, beautifully played, and camera work is exceptional in every way. Audio is excellent, full and rich, but not particularly "surround." Recommended!

R.E.B. (May 2013)

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