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Raymond Tuttle
Classical Net, May 2008

MAHLER: Symphony No. 5 (NTSC) 100033
SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto / FALLA: Nights in the Gardens of Spain (NTSC) 100035

Naxos of America is distributing DVDs made by Arthaus Musik. Many titles already have been released, and they encompass orchestral and choral concerts, opera, and ballet. These two discs, which are high-class productions in every way, were recorded in concert while the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in Köln back in 1997. They offer all the advantages of the DVD format, including CD-quality audio (PCM and Dolby stereo); steady, high-resolution video; and instant access to any movement of any piece on the disc…

(Mahler) The camera is trained on the conductor about half of the time, and on members of the orchestra the rest of the time. Probably because of camera placement, some players never appear in close-up, or perhaps the decision was made to focus on first-chair players. The principal trumpet gets the most attention apart from the conductor, as it only right. At the end of the concert, Barenboim draws a white rose from his beautiful bouquet and presents it to him! The images are beautifully clear, and in the end, this performance is as pleasant to watch as it is to hear.

This DVD (Sibelius) reveals Vengerov’s uncommon way of holding the violin, and his visage while playing: eyes closed, and a profile that would not seem foreign on Easter Island!

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