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Fellini,Jazz & Co.(Waldbühne 2011) [Blu-ray] [Alemania]
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The Waldbühne in Berlin is one of Europes ideal outdoor amphitheatres. It is home to the Berlin Philharmonics summer concerts, which are among the most popular classical events in the world, attracting audiences of 20,000 or more people.
In July 2011 the orchestra, under the ebullient direction of Riccardo Chailly, presented this concert of effervescent works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Nino Rota and Ottorino Respighi.
All three composers possessed an unerring instinct for composing music that is guaranteed to please the ear of the listener. In their own individual ways, each of them powerfully demonstrates a phenomenal handling of tone colour. Their music sparkles with light one moment and lurks in the shadows the next.
Riccardo Chailly is famous for having one of the broadest repertoires in the business, ranging from the orchestral highways of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner through to the 20th century byways via Bach, the core operatic repertoire and almost anything else - he is an omnivore, with the brilliance to match.
Respighi's Pines and Fountains of Rome sound absolutely ravishing here one can only sit in awe at such fine-tuned (in every way) virtuosity. --Julian Haylock, International Record Review
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The title, 'Fellini, Jazz & Co', is correct in emphasising the film music element of this concert. This is a particularly true description of Nino Rota's film role as he collaborated as the composer of choice for the film director, Fellini. Chailly and the BPO give a fine performance of Rota's suite that he created from the music he previously wrote for Fellini's film, La Strada (1954). Shostakovich's Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra, also known as the Suite for Variety orchestra, is also largely made up of extracts from various films for which he wrote the music. The two encores are taken from stage works by Shostakovich and Respighi.
The main works are the two most popular of Respighi's three Roman works - The Fountains of Rome and the Pines of Rome. These are given simply wonderful interpretations with the faster sections really sizzling and the slower sections sumptuous and moving. The recording of the nightingale in The Pines of the Janiculum movement is especially effective. This is followed by The Pines of the Appian Way which finish this Roman feast at just the right speed to suggest the approaching might of the Roman army and where Respighi stated that he wanted the ground to tremble under its footsteps. Too often, sad to say, this is played just a fraction too fast and the effect is lost and is replaced by a meaningless jolly jaunt. Not so here - tremendously effective, rousing and exciting. The crowd loved it and so did I!
That leaves the recording. The quality of the imaging seems to have gone up a notch here with the crispest definition I have ever seen at this event - or possibly anywhere else, at least in my collection. The sound is presented in stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio and fully matches the splendour of the occasion. There is no doubt in my mind that this is both a particularly outstanding event and recording and, as such, surely deserves the full 5 stars. It should give purchasers enormous pleasure and satisfaction for years to come.
EuroArts' sources don't always get it right either. For example, inconsistent camerawork mars Achucarro & Rattle: Nights in The Gardens of Spain [Blu-ray]. It's amazing, though, how often EuroArts is able to capture lightning in a bottle -- providing what I consider a fully immersive experience of a definitive performance. Two of my favorite discs fall in this category: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition & Borodin: Symphony No. 2 [Blu-ray] (the thrilling concluding segment is demo quality and what I show to convert friends over to Blu-ray), and Schumann: Symphony No. 4 - Piano Concerto - featuring Martha Argerich and Riccardo Chailly [Blu-ray].
Now I have a third: "Fellini, Jazz & Co.," with the Berlin Philharmonic, arguably the world's best orchestra, letting its hair down a bit under the baton of the great Riccardo Chailly. It's glorious fun, and this Blu-ray gives you a ticket to the party.
Shostakovich is not a favorite of mine, but the Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra (derived from his film scores) is a revelation. It's immensely enjoyable from start to finish. Same is true of Rota's "La Strada" Ballet Suite.
That's followed by Respighi's "Fountains of Rome" and "Pines of Rome" (my main reasons for buying this disc). Admittedly, these popular works have been done to death, but I never tire of them, and I'd put this performance up against any other. It's the one I'll keep coming back to. The only drawback is that a baby's wailing reaches the orchestra's microphones in the hushed final moments of "Fountains of Rome." That comes with the territory -- this was recorded at a summer concert in Berlin's huge Waldbuhne amphitheatre, which seats more than 20,000.
The evening ends with several orchestral bon-bons by Shostakovich, Respighi and Lincke.
It's a totally satisfying experience -- brilliant performances of beautiful popular and lesser-known works, seamless camerawork and direction, and ideal sound. I did notice a couple of apparent digital "hiccups" in the otherwise pristine HD capture -- the last one occurs at 1:42:37 (it was evident on both of my Blu-ray players) -- but they go by in a flash and are hardly noteworthy.
At the end of the disc, I'm sure you'll be tempted to rise and applaud with the audience before it heads off, invigorated, into the Berlin night.