Sommernachtskonzert 2014 - Lang Lang, Eschenbach, Vienna Philharmonic (2014)
Full BluRay 1:1 | BDMV | 1080i MPEG-4 AVC @ 35978 kbps; 29,970 fps | 01:35:07 | 30.74 GB
Audio1: German DTS-HD MA 5.0 / 48 kHz / 3685 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Audio2: German LPCM 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Genre: Classical | Subtitles: None
The Vienna Philharmonic performed its annual Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn, an open air event with free admission, in the unique ambience of the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The Summer Night Concert was conducted for the first time by Christoph Eschenbach. The soloist was Lang Lang.
Despite less than optimum weather conditions approximately 40,000 people came to the magnificent grounds of Schönbrunn Palace to hear compositions by Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss. Lang Lang performed brilliantly as piano soloist in the Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra by Richard Strauss.
With this open air concert in Schönbrunn, the Philharmonic wishes to provide all Viennese, as well as visitors to the city, with a special musical experience in the impressive setting of Schönbrunn Palace and its beautiful baroque gardens, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Composer: Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer: Lang Lang
Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
Orchestra/Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviews: The appeal of recordings of Gala Concerts is limited by their very nature, especially when they consist of a potpourri of music by different artists. The major exception is the annual New Year's Concert from Vienna, and the intention has been to replicate this success with recordings from the annual Summer Night Concert held for the last 10 years in the open air in the glorious setting of the gardens of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.
They perhaps appeal to those were there-40,000 for this year's concert including my wife and I-but beyond that commercial appeal is restricted as witnessed by how quickly previous issues released by DG have become "remaindered" on amazon!
This year's hastily engineered recording is issued for the first time by Sony, and its appeal has been widened by the participation of Lang Lang, thus ensuring a wider prospective market not least in China-indeed there is a promotional sticker highlighting Lang Lang's participation, and declaring the "Recording of the Complete Concert".
This is not the case-Lang Lang gave a blisteringly fast and dazzling encore of the Rondo à la Turk which is omitted, as is the first encore of Wiener Blut which is obligatory at these concerts.
Let me digress by advising that there are few more heady experiences than enjoying the VPO in Strauss in that setting, with the scent of flowers and beautiful illumination on a balmy evening.
The music that IS included has a Richard Strauss theme, as the notes in the disc liner by Clemens Hellberg reproduced from the event programme remind us. 2 works by Strauss himself, 2 by Berlioz whose orchestration skills were so admired by Wagner and Strauss, and one only (thankfully) by Liszt, creator of the "Tone Poem," so beloved by Strauss as a medium.
The recording, though now on Sony, has been made by the same team as previously from Teldex in Berlin-none of the major companies retain permanent recording teams nowadays.
I don't know what technical input Sony has had, but the recorded sound is the best ever-not the velvet tones of the Musikverein, but a rich really "punchy" and weighty sound which captures all the richness and bloom of this great orchestra while adding a dynamic excitement redolent of the Chicago Symphony!
The prefabricated band shell and the outdoor acoustic result in great sonic results in this case, surprisingly so, as where earlier issues were very good, this is superb.
Audience noise is non-existent, as is the sound of the firework display during the second encore, the Polka-Furioso.
The conductor, Christoph Eschenbach has a reputation for being dull, garnered mainly in the USA though I have to say that I have found many of his performances with the Houston and Philadelphia Orchestras to be really superb-but I must confess to disliking totally his conducting on a Strauss Operatic Excerpts disc with the VPO-leaden, cloying and overblown (just like the whole enterprise!).
I acknowledge that I am nearly alone on this view!!!
On this disc, he conducts as lively and well judged performances as one could wish for.
The Berlioz pieces stand comparison with the very best, I kid you not-the detail is astonishing-the Till Eulenspiegel is colossal in weight but lithe and lively in tempo, and the Mazeppa gets to the final jaunty climax quickly enough (I ate a Bratwurst and drank a beer during this work!)
However, it is the concert's centrepiece, the dazzling Burleske that will be the main attraction for most I suspect. This early Strauss work, with its influences of Brahms and Schumann, has always been a favourite of mine and requires the utmost pianistic brilliance.
Great recordings are few-Byron Janis with Reiner, Argerich dazzling with Abbado but in rather dry sound from a live Berlin concert, and best of all Elizabeth Leonskaja, also live and supported in stunning sound (SACD for those who require it) by Gary Bertini and the WDR Orchestra, Cologne.
One supposes that the pianist rather dictates the proceedings in this work, as Lang and Lang and Eschenbach adopt the monumental approach of another favourite, Rudolf Serkin.
There is none of the headlong rush of Janis, Argerich and Leonskaja, rather a more noble measured approach with incredible delicacy in quiet passages with an exaggerated rubato, followed by technical brilliance in the faster sections. The duet passage between piano and solo cello is achingly beautiful, and the work fades away to a delicate and breath stopping ending.
Lang Lang was visibly enthused, and the same team had already performed the same work in all Strauss concerts in Linz and in Switzerland, so there is complete understanding between pianist, conductor and orchestra.
If I'm honest, I prefer a more driven reading, but the beauty and grandeur of this one cannot be denied, and I have returned and will return to it with pleasure-as indeed I have and will to the other items (maybe not the Liszt!).
So, it's a great disc, filled with glorious music and music making in astonishingly good sound, and if any of the works appeal, you need not hesitate. It is a well balanced collection, and though the Burleske is the star attraction, the Berlioz and the Till hold their own. Recommended and as recording are artistry are first rate-it can only be 5 Stars!
1. Berlioz : Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9
2. Liszt : Mazeppa, symphonic poem No. 6, S100
3. Strauss, R : Burleske for Piano and orchestra in D minor, AV85 * Lang Lang (piano)
4. W.A. Mozart : Piano Sonata No. II in A minor, KV 331
5. Berlioz : Benvenuto Cellini Overture
6. R. Strauss : Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28
7. J. Strauss II : Wiener Blut, Walzer, Op. 354 Vienna Blood
8. Strauss, J, II : Furioso-Polka quasi Galopp, Op. 260