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Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, June 2013

JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Jansons) (NTSC) 709708
JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Jansons) (Blu-Ray, HD) 709804

Beautifully and sensibly constructed, this documentary tells the story of contemporary conductor Mariss Jansons…

…Jansons received the Musikpreis—often called the Nobel Prize of music—from the Ernst von Siemens Musikstifung, an honor he shares with Bernstein, Britten, Harnoncourt, Stockhausen, and his former mentor Karajan, among many other composers, conductors, and performers. Both the documentary and the symphonic performance on this set are evidence that this award is richly deserved, and both are equally fine tributes to Jansons, a respected artist and a thoughtful soul. Highly recommended. © 2013 Music Media Monthly Read complete review

Christopher Abbot
Fanfare, September 2012

JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Jansons) (NTSC) 709708
JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Jansons) (Blu-Ray, HD) 709804

The video portrait of Mariss Jansons includes commentary from the conductor, vintage newsreel footage and photographs, and encomia from musicians Lang Lang, Thomas Hampson, Rudolf Buchbinder, and Krassimira Sloyanova, and members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Music of Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Liszt, and Johann Strauss is heard in the soundtrack and in rehearsal in Amsterdam, Munich, and Vienna; Strauss’s visit to St. Petersburg serves as a connective strand throughout the film, most notably to excerpts from the 2006 New Year’s concert in Vienna.

I can recommend this video to admirers of Mariss Jansons, and to those who are curious about this versatile conductor. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, June 2012

JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Jansons) (Blu-Ray, HD) 709804
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” (Chailly) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10238

Each of these new videos presents a performance that will satisfy the most ardent and jaded critic. Both orchestras are at home with the score and the soloists in each are well-matched.

I watched the Jansons first and heard a very romantic performance, indicating that the conductor is comfortable with the score and views the work as belonging to its past and not as a portent of things to come.

I may not have felt this so acutely had I not, soon after, played the Chailly version. There is a real sense of hearing something new and exciting…from unexpected, subtle instrumental inflections and phrasing to the just perceptible spaces between phrases. The musicians are caught up in the excitement and significance of their parts, often playing like they have their feet in ice-water. The last movement and the closing pages are devastating. Repeated viewings have not dampened my enthusiasm for the Chailly in any way. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

David A. McConnell
MusicWeb International, May 2012

This well made, substantial (52 minutes long) documentary follows Jansons as he visits his hometown of Riga, Latvia, prepares for a Tchaikovsky opera performance in the Netherlands, and for a New Year’s Day Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic. Towards the beginning of the film, where several people share how much they admire and love working with Jansons, I feared this might end up being a superficial publicity film. Yet once Jansons began reflecting on his health struggles, and growing up in a country controlled by the Soviet Union, we receive great insight into what has made him the musician he is today. Interestingly, as Jansons shares what he learned studying under Karajan, one cannot help but be struck by his unassuming humility, in stark contrast to his mentor. I came away with a new admiration for Jansons, the musician and the man.

…orchestra, soloists, choir, conductor, and the hall itself are filmed and recorded so magnificently. Watching, you will be renewed and uplifted, and that is surely what Mahler intended. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, May 2012

This big, bold and sometimes beautiful second symphony definitely is a typical Mahler symphony. This popular composition can also be an example to introduce Mahler’s music to newcomers to classical music. The performance is…solidly performed and should satisfy most music lovers while featuring what could be called a living portrait of Jansons. The orchestral performance is easily described as quite excellent as is the audio quality overall. No obvious faults mar this presentation. As is the norm for almost all video aspects for Blu-rays I have received so far, it is between excellent and outstanding. This is easy to recommend for the fine music presented here. © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Jeffrey Kauffman, April 2012

Music Is the Language of the Heart and Soul plays unabashedly like an elegy at times, led by its subject himself [Mariss Jansons], who, while still spritely and full of life, seems rather aware of his own impending mortality, something that brings a sense of poignance and urgency to the documentary.

The second "feature" on this disc is a gorgeous performance of Mahler's gargantuan Second Symphony, the so-called Resurrection, performed here by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, with soloists Ricarda Merbeth (soprano) and Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), as well as the Netherlands Radio Choir. Jansons is a master of finessing the often bizarre segues that populate any given Mahler piece, and he proves that here with some arrestingly effective transitions that breathe fascinating life into this piece. His opening movement is especially telling, full of a sort of tension and sinister mystery, especially in the bombastic opening bars. The singing in the fourth movement is languid and expressive, followed by a rousing final movement that is capped by Jansons furiously wiping his heavily perspiring head and face. It's a well earned moment.

The image here is sharp and accurate looking, with good saturation and natural looking colors. The symphony boasts excellent video quality, with appealing fine detail on display in the close-ups of Jansons, the singers and the orchestra players.

The talking heads segments and interview segments sound natural, clear and precise. The Symphony boasts awesome dynamic range and crystal clear fidelity, with all sections of the orchestra sounding full and brilliantly alive. The singing is well mixed and prioritized here…

The overall program here is very impressive, with excellent video and superior audio, and it comes Highly recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, April 2012

…star performers like baritone Thomas Hampson and piano virtuoso Lang Lang pay tribute to Janson’s talent as musician. The spiritual essence, the unfettered emotion, and yet perfect control over the vocal and instrumental forces are a trademark of Jansons’ performances, and are completely reflected in this production.

Robert Neumuller with deft editing, scripting and camera work gets you very close to the documentary’s principal subject, conductor Jansons.

There is insightful videography highlighting the right instruments at the right time while keeping a proper focus on the entire array of musical forces. Detail and color palette are excellent, in keeping with the C Major tradition. The capture of maestro Jansons’ expressive face effectively conveys his oneness with this music and his orchestral forces.

After listening to Jansons’ control of the orchestral dynamics, I understand what his musicians have said about him in the documentary. He really knows how to get the most music out of his performers, allowing listeners to get fine points that many conductors gloss over.

The mark of immortal music is its ability to be translated in very different yet successful approaches, an observation clearly true of this work. There are many other moments that could be highlighted: the pointed dance rhythms in the third movement; the fabulous mezzo-soprano solo (Bernarda Fink) in the fourth movement; a simply staggering fifth movement featuring stellar choral and soprano solo (Ricarda Merbeth) contributions. All things considered, I do not think that I could be without this particular disc, no matter what, given the extraordinary strengths of this performance. © 2012 Read complete review

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