, November 2012
I was very much taken with this DVD from the very first note. As a production it is first-rate, recorded at the Lucerne Festival Concert Hall in plummy and delicious sound throughout. To his credit, the video director appears to have decided, correctly, that Andris Nelsons is the real subject. Nelsons is one of those conductors upon whose face everything important in the music is written. He is beyond fascinating to watch. The emotions play on his face with the directness and sense of wonder of a six-year-old.
Nelsons stands tall, with the seeming dignity of a Thielemann. The openness of his facial expressions is astonishingly effective. Quickly, one realizes that Nelsons seeks two things: spontaneous life and the rounded, long line. The most telling moment for understanding this is the first really big climax in Scheherazade. As the music swells grandly, a slow arc of Nelson’s baton over his head is the only real motion—and impossible to resist. I would defy any orchestra to play coldly or choppily beneath a pulse like this.
And indeed it doesn’t. This is romantic music-making at its best. The Beethoven overture and concerto are given lovely readings. Bronfman is a powerful pianist but has always had a soft rolling tone when needed, as here. There is a beautiful, rapt quality in the slow movement and a gentle ease to the Chopin encore.
…the performance of Scheherazade really impresses one the most. The Concertgebouw has a happy history with this piece, even managing to lure spontaneous beauty in it from Bernard Haitink in the 1970s. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better rendition than this. You can see the players are really enjoying themselves under Nelsons. And the interpretation is the very definition of musical ebb and flow. I would happily listen to no other, if it came to that. The Dvořák encore brings the concert to a close, smooth and svelte. What beauty of tone this orchestra reveals!
Andris Nelsons’s childlike spontaneity…could move the deaf! © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review