BEETHOVEN: Violiu Concerto in D, Op 61. MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.
Nikolaj Znaider, violin. Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Riccardo Chaillhy, cond.

Torsten Kerl (Tannhäuser). Markus Eiche (Wolfram). Lothat Odinius (Walther). Thomas Jesatko (Biterolfk). Camilla Nylund (Elisabeth). Michelle Breadt (Venus). Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orch/Axel Kober, cond.
OPUS ARTE DVD TT: 252 min. +20 min., bonus

KENDLINGER: Piano Concerto No. 1 "Larissa.": Overture to Der Priester
Philipp Scheuche, piano. K & K Philharmoniker/Matthius Georg Kendlinger, cond.
K21 (2 disks - CD and DVD) 37 min./ 49:59

Danish-Israeli Nikolaj Znaider (b. 1975) is internationally known as both a virtuoso violinist and as a conductor. He has thus far made few recordings (with Valery Gergiev and Sir Colin Davis), and now we have these excellent live performances of two staples of the repertory, the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos, with Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The recordings were made September 2013 and October 2014 (Mendelssohn). Chailly's sensitive accompaniments showcase the soloist, but there is an audio problem. The solo violin is very subdued, often overpowered by the orchestra. It is surprising that producers didn't have a microphone for the soloist. This sonic mismatch diminishes the impact of the performances. The Gewandhaus audience loved these performances, and coaxed a Bach encore from Znaider after each, the Sarabande from Partita No. 1, and the Sarabande from Partita No. 2. It is unfiortunate engineering doesn't do justice to the performances.

The latest debacle from Bayreuth since it fell under control of the composer's disrespectful heirs is Tannhäuser, which can be experienced on this DVD from August 12, 2014. This new production premiered at Bayreuth in July 2011. Sebastian Baumgarten is the director, stage design is by Jeep van Lieshout, costumes were designed by Nina von Mechow and Frank Evin is responsible for lighting. This is a modern "industrialized" version of Wagner's masterpiece taking place in a factory. At the beginning we see a large open stage with three tiers around the sides, with two video screens on which images/text are usually flashing. Dozens of workers are milling about on the stage performing industrial tasks, all carefully choreographed accompanied by sounds of the orchestra tumimg. Mingling among the workers we occasionally see the principal characters in preparation for the performance. This goes on for for about about 20 minutes after which the stage darkens and the overture begins. During the overture and Venusberg music we see projected moving sometimes sensual images of pulsing lungs, boney fingers, sperm and whatever. The performance itself is unexceptional; good Wagnerian singers are scarce today. I've heard Camilla Nyland in some remarkable performances, but this is not one of them. Another example of tiday's lack of quaity Wagnerian singers was the recent Met broadcast of Tannhäuser that featured dreadful female singers and a leading tenor who wasn't up to the leading role. I was irritated by the entire performance viewed on this new DVD, particularly as I had just heard a CD release of this opera from a Met broadcast January 4, 1941. This had a dream cast: Lauritz Melchior,Kirsten Flagstd, Emanuel List, Herbert Janssen and Kirsten Thorborg and Erich Leinsdorf on the podium. This new Bayreuth production is a travesty and it is difficult to imagine anyone spending several hundred dollars (sometimes much more) for a ticket to experience it. Out of curiosity, you might wish to investigate it. There is a half-hour bonus that attempots to explain the production. Video is outstanding and often we have views from the stage ceiling. There is no listing of tracks or timings, but the DVD booklet does give details of this ill-advised production. An oddity, indeed.

Matthius Georg Kendlinger, born in 1964 in Austria, started playing the accordion when only 5 and also studied the piano. He gave many concerts throughout Europe and organized the Tyrolean Festival. In 2002 he also founded the K&K Philharmonic, as well as an opera company. He is a composer, his major works are his Symphony No 1 and the opera Der Priest. This new twin-disk set offers two of his works, the Piano Concerto No. 1 which he gave the title of his wife, Larissa. We also have the overture to Der Priester. The composer conducts the K & K Orchestra (a fine group!) The concerto's soloist is young pianist Philipp Scheucher who plays well enough but has little opportunity for virtuoso display. This concerto doubtless is important to the composer/conductor, but I cannot imagine it will become standard concert fare. The overture to the opera certainly is pleasant enough but there is nothing new or innovative here. This set includes a CD and a video. The DVD also contains an 8:52 feature called The Classic Revolutionizer focusing on the composer. From what is heard on this new recording, he doesn't seem to be very revolutionary. Video and audio are outstanding.

R.E.B. (March 2016)