Classical Music Home

The World's Leading Classical Music Group

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?
Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Bradley Winterton
Taipei Times, April 2012

NOBEL PRIZE CONCERT 2009 - RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Temirkanov) (NTSC) 2057898
NOBEL PRIZE CONCERT 2009 - RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Temirkanov) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 2057894

The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra features in two DVDs this month. The first, from EuroArts, contains the December 2009 Nobel Prize Concert, of which the highlight was presumably intended to be the participation of Martha Argerich playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. She is indeed magnificent, and the wistful tenderness of the slow movement is certainly compelling. However, even more wonderful is the performance after the interval by the orchestra alone of two of Prokofiev’s three Romeo and Juliet suites, or at least the whole of the second suite and three items from the first.

This is absolutely stupendous. The Friar Laurence item from the second suite and The Death of Tybalt from the first suite, with which the performance ends, are both outstanding. Taken together with Argerich in the Ravel concerto, this constitutes a magnificent DVD and is consequently highly recommended. © 2012 Taipei Times Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, December 2011

Argerich’s…Chopin encore is pure pianistic magic, holding the audience enthralled…we are treated to a superb reading of the Prokofiev ballet suites.  The concert is well recorded and videographed to boot.

Mme Argerich offers a very distinctive and moving performance.© 2011 Read complete review

Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, February 2011

Argerich is unmissable in Ravel

The annual Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm is held as a tribute to the year’s Nobel Laureates. This live recording of the December 2009 concert opens with the Swedish national anthem, one of those off-the-peg tunes which no one can remember and most Swedes can’t sing (if this audience is anything to go by). Temirkanov then gets things going with a breezy account of Shostakovich’s cheerily derivative Festive Overture. After the interval he conducts a selection from Prokofiev’s two Romeo and Juliet suites, bizarrely ordered to commence with “Montagues and Capulets”, proceeding to “Romeo at Juliet’s Grave” and ending with the “Death of Tybalt”. The Stockholm players respond magnificently, as they do throughout.

Before this comes the concert’s highlights. Pianophiles will swoop on this opportunity to see and hear Martha Argerich in one of her specialities—Ravel’s G major Concerto. She is on top form, propelling the music forwards in the outer movements with scintillating rhythmic élan, precision and wit, finding a new expressive depth in her second movement solo, and matched by spirited and sensitive woodwind and brass soloists. Michael Beyer’s direction manages to illuminate Ravel’s kaleidoscopic orchestration without distracting from the performance itself. EuroArt’s timing of 6’56” for the last movement, incidentally, is incorrect: it is 3’47”. The extra three minutes are audience applause, which Argerich acknowledges with a charming little Chopin Mazurka.

Robert Benson, January 2011

A concert is given each year as an honor to the Nobel Laureates. December 8, 2009 the concert featured the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov with Martha Argerich as soloist. Ravel’s G major concerto has long been associated with the pianist. She recorded it in 1967 with Claudio Abbado, in 1998 with Charles Dutoit, and a 1995 performance with Gary Bertini on the podium has just been issued. All are brilliant performances, but this DVD gives us the opportunity to watch the magic happen. As an encore, Argerich gives a gentle performance of the mazurka listed above. Temirkanov begins the program with a spectacular performance of the flamboyant Shostakovich overture, and ends it with music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. In both the Swedish orchestra is in top form. Video and audio are excellent.

Brent Auerbach
American Record Guide, January 2011

It is always a pleasure to observe Argerich at the keyboard. She is always in control, and it is amusing to see how on more than one occasion she is able to snatch the music out of the conductor’s hands to spin it off in a new direction. She is a high-energy player. The Stockholm Philharmonic does an admirable job…Their strengths are in the areas of precision and warmth, with moments of outright intensity coming fairly rarely.

This is a handsome production that I would not hesitate to screen for any music-loving acquaintances.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, January 2011

Attendees of the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm are treated to a gala concert by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. A Euroarts DVD of the 2008 event, led by John Eliot Gardiner, was reviewed in Fanfare 33:2. That DVD included bonus material in the form of a conversation with Gardiner and a number of Nobel Laureates. The current disc, which presents the 2009 concert, includes no extras and thus offers rather short playing time for a DVD. It is more than made up for, however, by the excellence of the program, performances, and videography, compared to the 2008 production.

Yuri Temirkanov opens the concert with a rousing reading of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a rip-roaring piece that elicits a smile from Sweden’s lovely Crown Princess and seems to stir the otherwise rather staid Stockholm spectators. Temirkanov is not a very demonstrative conductor. He leads without a baton, doesn’t flail about on the podium, and displays a fairly limited repertoire of nearly inscrutable facial expressions; yet, however he does it, he really seems to energize the players, and they seem genuinely to like him.

Next up is the Ravel concerto with Martha Argerich, a pianist I love so dearly I’d happily listen to her playing Chopsticks. Her facial expressions are anything but inscrutable. She loves the piano, she loves Ravel, and she is obviously enjoying herself immensely in this performance. There is a rare rapport between her, Temirkanov, and the orchestra in this very tricky score. Once, midway through the gorgeous Adagio assai movement, there is a moment where the piano and the orchestra are the slightest bit out of sync. You wouldn’t even notice it but for Argerich’s parentally stern glance at the offending players, upon which matters are instantly set aright.

The audience responds with a thunderous ovation at the end and won’t let her go without an encore. Argerich graciously obliges with a Chopin mazurka.

The conclusion of the program strikes me as just a bit odd. Temirkanov presents the complete Suite No. 2 from Prokoviev’s Romeo and Juliet, which ends with the climactic “Romeo at Juliet’s Grave,” and frankly contains the best music from the ballet; and then rather anticlimactically follows it with three movements from the Suite No. 1. Perhaps at the actual concert, this was offered as an encore. In any case, the performance is top-notch, with the orchestra responding to Temirkanov’s peculiar alchemy as if mesmerized by him.

The video portion of the disc is an improvement over similar filmed concerts I’ve seen. Timely focus is maintained on the orchestra’s soloists who are actually playing solo at that moment, and shots are sustained long enough that one doesn’t experience that vertiginous feeling of constant panning. This is very well done, and strongly recommended.

Christopher Fifield
MusicWeb International, September 2010

Each year a concert is given in Stockholm to mark the distribution of Nobel prizes. The programme for 2009 was recorded live and consists of popular Russian and French music which would not have taxed the grey cells of the assembled brains or the Swedish royalty in attendance. Under the batonless and diminutive figure of Yuri Temirkanov, the music speeds along, belying his three score and ten years. Indeed his podium manner is something of a distraction, his technique more like preparing wallpaper with paste on a plank between ladders if you follow my description. The results, however, are electrifying. The Swedish players—and probably a host of others in the many orchestras with which he is associated—clearly love him. He has that whimsical smile playing around his lips which one associates with Rozhdesventsky, but woe betide anyone who needs a downbeat; all they’ll see is a sideswipe. The playing is fabulous from all departments, cor anglais, flute, harp, horn, trumpet and trombone in the Ravel; all those plus a host more in the Prokofiev.

Martha Argerich, also a septuagenarian in a year’s time, is hugely impressive in a magnificently clear and clean account of the concerto, followed by a wonderfully understated rendition of a Chopin mazurka as an encore. The Prokofiev ballet music burns with passion and zips along at a furious pace in anything marked Allegro or faster, while the Shostakovich gets the programme underway in a blaze of brass and in true festive fashion.

Direction is traditional with cameras zooming in predictably on solo instrumentalists. Temirkanov’s antics make him hugely photogenic, while Argerich’s fingers, if not her hair-do, are a revelation. As a musician she cuts a modest, humble figure, which she is.

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, September 2010

As the reader will notice from the headnote, this is an account of the Nobel Prize concert from 2009. That was the year President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, apparently for actions the committee expected he would take in the future. He was not present at this concert, though Princess Victoria of Sweden and other dignitaries were. No matter, with or without VIPs, the concert was worthwhile. Temirkanov led off the proceedings with a performance of the Shostakovich Festive Overture, a piece he has recorded on DVD before, initially on the EuroArts Gala Concert – 300 Years of St. Petersburg. The work is a light, celebratory piece of about six minutes in length, and the performance here was fully convincing.

Martha Argerich, who by the way gets top billing on the DVD’s cover, then came on to perform the Ravel G major Concerto, a work she has recorded at least twice before...Argerich knows the G major Concerto well and always performs it with spirit and commitment. So you won’t go wrong with this performance. If you have followed her career, you have noticed that she has played this concerto and the Prokofiev 3rd probably more times than any others. In fact, it appears the Prokofiev is her favorite. Argerich performs the Chopin Mazurka in C, Op. 24 #2, as an encore. Again, her performance is splendid.

Music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet occupies the latter half of the concert. Suite #2 leads off and is played complete, except for #6 – Dance of the Antillean Maidens. Three numbers from Suite #1 follow: #2 – Scene; #5 – Masks; and #7 – Death of Tybalt. I’m not sure why Temirkanov reversed the order of the suites, since it would have made much more sense to close with Romeo at Juliet’s Grave (No. 7 from Suite #2). At any rate, Temirkanov leads the orchestra with a good sense for Prokofiev’s ranging moods here, from the dark conflict and struggle in the Mantagues and Capulets to the playfulness of Juliet the Young Girl to the tragedy and passion of Romeo at Juliet’s Grave. The sound on all works is excellent and the camera work is fine. Highly recommended.

Famous Composers Quick Link:
Bach | Beethoven | Chopin | Dowland | Handel | Haydn | Mozart | Glazunov | Schumann | R Strauss | Vivaldi
12:00:52 AM, 6 September 2015
All Naxos Historical, Naxos Classical Archives, Naxos Jazz, Folk and Rock Legends and Naxos Nostalgia titles are not available in the United States and some titles may not be available in Australia and Singapore because these countries have copyright laws that provide or may provide for terms of protection for sound recordings that differ from the rest of the world.
Copyright © 2015 Naxos Digital Services Ltd. All rights reserved.     Terms of Use     Privacy Policy
Classical Music Home
NOTICE: This site was unavailable for several hours on Saturday, June 25th 2011 due to some unexpected but essential maintenance work. We apologize for any inconvenience.