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My Classical Notes, January 2012

Gergiev’s performance of Mahler’s Fourth symphony is not only full of underlying musical tensions, but also highly melodic, dynamic and with deep awareness of every detail. Camilla Tilling’s radiant soprano and her intonation are perfect in the Finale.

The World Orchestra for Peace (WOP)…is a terrific ensemble, and these two BBC Prom concerts are captured in brilliant video and audio.

Gergiev plays the Mahler Fifth with an amazing Finale played quite a bit faster than usual, and he brings the house down at this Proms concert at the Albert Hall. © 2012 My Classical Notes Read complete review

Frank Behrens
Art Times, December 2011

the format is standard, the playing exciting, and Gergiev’s method of conducting is quite interesting. © 2011 Art Times

Brian Buerkle
American Record Guide, November 2011

Soprano Camilla Tilling has a lovely voice and wonderful expression in her face…

Timur Martynov…is fantastic. Gergiev caresses the softer moments with care and allows the strings to express themselves.

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

Tim Perry
MusicWeb International, October 2011

…an emotionally cool Mahler 4, with beautiful individual lines emerging with uncustomary clarity from the orchestral textures and a sweet soprano brightening the finale.

The performance of the fifth that follows is more compelling.

Throughout the quality of the sound is very impressive. The clarity of ensemble is fabulous and for once the timpani are always audible but never overwhelming.

Solti was not one to deliver deep emotional impact with this symphony, but he was thrilling throughout. So is Gergiev.

This is not everyone’s ideal Mahler, but it is thoroughly enjoyable if you favour ensemble clarity and thrilling execution over deep emotion.

Robert Benson, October 2011

Orchestral Concert - PROKOFIEV, S. / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I. / ROSSINI, G. (Gergiev at the Abu Dhabi Festival) (World Orchestra for Peace) (NTSC) 707008
MAHLER, G.: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5 (Tilling, World Orchestra for Peace, Gergiev) (NTSC) 702608

The World Orchestra for Peace…are heard at their best in these stunning BBC performances of the two Mahler symphonies. …the performances are magnificent, particularly Symphony No. 5 in which brass playing is spectacular. Exciting concerts indeed! Read complete review

Christopher Abbot
Fanfare, September 2011

The performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony that was included in Valery Gergiev’s survey of the complete symphonies for LSO Live received my highest recommendation in Fanfare 33:6; the performance that comprises one-half of the program here is very similar. Gergiev’s tempos are unexaggerated, and his exploitation of inner-voice detail is exemplary. Ruhevall especially is warmly fluid and engaging, right up to the climactic moment of the arrival at the gates of heaven.

Camilla Tilling, soloist in Benjamin Zander’s splendid Telarc recording of the Fourth, sounds properly youthful and wide-eyed, her expression miming the awestruck child as she recounts the delights on offer. Gergiev accompanies at an easy gait, allowing Tilling ample time in which to fully exploit the naiveté of the song. Altogether, this is a charming and sensitive finale that crowns a performance notable for charm and sensitivity.

The Fifth Symphony opens with a precise, weighty, and deliberate fanfare; the funeral march has a strong pulse, the melancholy leavened with resignation. The “suddenly faster” section of this first movement is urgent but not distractingly impulsive; control is the byword here. Another notable aspect of the performance is the near-perfect blend of orchestral voices, remarkable for an ensemble that meets for such a short time.

The angry confusion at the heart of the second movement is a marked contrast to the austerity of the march in the first. The main theme, however, possesses a sadly sweet kind of melancholy colored by nostalgia, later reinforced by the moody cello cantilena. The genial, even jaunty major-mode march lightens the mood effectively; the chorale that seems to offer a view of the hereafter is somewhat less than ecstatic but effective within Gergiev’s low-key approach. There is sweep to the jolly Scherzo, but it’s not quite the robust contrast to the preceding first part of the symphony that can so effectively dispel the gloom; Rattle, in the DVD of his inaugural concert in Berlin (reviewed in Fanfare 27:1), provides just such a contrast. The whimsical Trios are sprightly and add a sweetly nostalgic note.

The strings bring ardor and lush, full-bodied tone to the Adagietto. Gergiev’s tempos never drag, but he allows the poignant themes to register their full effect. The finale opens attacca with the sudden horn tones. As with the Scherzo, there is plenty of energy here, though the music isn’t quite as infectious as it should be. Gergiev certainly adopts a lively tempo; the music just doesn’t sound as spontaneous as, for another example, Abbado in Lucerne, whose use of rubato adds more variety and poignancy; Gergiev, infectious though it may be, is almost pure momentum.

The sound production, especially in DTS 5.1 surround, is spacious and detailed within an expansive soundstage. An unfortunate byproduct of the accuracy of the surround-sound program is the (luckily) occasional coughs and other extraneous noises from the audience, which tend to be quite loud and multidirectional! Gergiev’s own vocal contributions are also occasionally audible.

Since this is a DVD, observations concerning the visual aspect might interest prospective purchasers. Valery Gergiev is a refreshingly disheveled presence on the podium, the antithesis of the stiff frock-coated maestro, with his hair awry and beads of sweat flecking his stylish black collarless jacket. Conducting without a baton, his hands are constantly in motion, especially the right, which flutters about like a small bird. In this, he is the farthest thing imaginable from that other famous conductor sans baton, the dour and expressionless Pierre Boulez. The visual production is notable for panning shots of the strikingly beautiful interior of the Royal Festival Hall, with its empurpled ceiling and stage background bathed in blue light. The rest of the production is a skillful blend of solo and section views, accompanied by the animated presence of Maestro Gergiev.

Gergiev’s Mahler has been an acquired taste for me, but this video captures two excellent performances of highly contrasted works, recorded during the sesquicentennial of Mahler’s birth. Highly recommended.

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, August 2011

The Mahler Fourth is paced moderately and given a rather Romantic, bucolic approach. There have been so many excellent Fourths over the years by Bernstein (on both Sony & DG), Szell, Solti and countless others. This one by Gergiev can stand with the better ones and is probably the one to get if you want video.

The Fifth, I think, is a somewhat stronger performance. A fine Fifth, then, possibly a challenger to Chailly, Bernstein and others. It’s hard to pick winners when there is so much competition, but I can say this performance is strong from start to finish and features excellent solo work…

In fact, the playing by the entire orchestra throughout in both symphonies is splendid, which answers the question I posed at the outset: the sum of the impressive parts does indeed equal a marvelous whole! Excellent sound and imaginative camera work top off this fine effort.

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