, March 2009
Videographed at a concert in 2002 in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, this is a fascinating program with no music by Mozart but one short encore having at least a passing reference to the composer. Raskatov’s work uses short Mozart snippets interrupted by percussion, illustrating the many petty obstacles the composer had to overcome.
The 27 outstanding members of Kremer’s ensemble come from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and the group is supported by the culture ministries of all three countries. They had great success with transcribing two of Beethoven’s string quartets, so this time they took another great chamber music standard by Schubert, bringing in the whole string orchestra as a sort of ripieno function in the sections that seemed more orchestral, while staying with the original quartet instrumentation for other portions. Kremer was one of the first to bring the genius of Astor Piazzolla to public attention, and he encores the Schubert performance with a heartfelt solo on the lovely Oblivion. I’ve always enjoyed Rozsa’s concert music as much as his fine film scores. This Rozsa work is one movement from his Sinfonia Concertante. Not being a Schnittke fan, I can’t comment on this microtonal work.
The DVD is presented in a very confusing manner: It appears to be three separate concerts with repeats of all the titles and credits, rather than going from one selection to another. It’s all in the same hall and seems to be the same audience. The images are clean and clear, nearly Blu-ray quality, but for the final selection—the Raskatov—it suddenly reverts to a 4:3 picture-framed image with no warning. The tiny image has all the players stretched horizontally—forcing one to manually switch to 4:3 on your display. This aspect ratio/framing problem seems to be happening more and more on both broadcast and DVD sources and is most annoying. The surround options are excellent, though the PCM stereo is again the most transparent audio source.