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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Barenboim/Rattle DVD of the First Concerto, coupled with Schoenberg’s orchestration of the First Piano Quartet, (curiously scored minus a piano) is visually and sonically one of the most successful of all the available orchestral concert DVDs, and the Concerto is an overwhelming musical experience. The sound is magnificent—full, rich, resonant and vivid in its detail, as if the recording were made in a normal concert hall with perfect acoustics. When Barenboim enters, the balance, both sonically and artistically, is just as outstanding. It is a superb performance, with free-running adrenalin, to match Barenboim’s much earlier studio partnership with Barbirolli. Moreover, the camera-work is marvellously edited—the visuals of Barenboim are strikingly well chosen, and the orchestral coverage is equally prescient. Indeed, it is remarkably like being present at the concert itself. The choice of Schoenberg’s orchestration of the Piano Quartet for the second half of the concert was a curious one, yet that too is played with great conviction. But this DVD is an essential purchase for the Concerto alone.

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