Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, March 2013

SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 8 (Nelsons) (NTSC) 709908
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 8 (Nelsons) (Blu-ray, HD) 710004

This disc brings us a moving performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra…Nelsons’ energy face-to-face is one of the greatest values of this production. The Rienzi overture hums with building intensity and bright emotion, and Strauss‘s Dance of the Seven Veils is a wild ride, but thankfully everyone keeps all their veils on. The Shostakovich requires a real commitment of attention and energy on the part of performers and listeners alike. This disc is one of very few video recordings of the Shostakovich available, and I highly recommend it. © 2013 Music Media Monthly Read complete review, October 2012

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 5 / RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.: Scheherazade (Bronfman, Nelsons) (NTSC) 710108
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 8 (Nelsons) (Blu-ray, HD) 710004

Nelsons was chosen to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw in two concerts at the Lucerrne Festival, and both are now available on DVD…Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8…is one of the finest you will ever hear. The following night’s concert presented Yefim Bronfman in Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5…Bronfman is an imposing figure at the keyboard and he gives a magnificent performance of this mighty concerto, and rewards the insistent audience with a glowing account of a Chopin Etude. Scheherazade is a showcase for players of the RCOA and they are given total freedom by Nelsons; there playing is stunning, and all take well-deserved solo bows. Video is excellent…These are welcome releases! © 2012 Read complete review

Andrew Quint
Fanfare, September 2012

This Blu-ray presents Nelsons’s complete program of September 4, 2011. He leads off with the Rienzi Overture, opting for deliberate tempos for both the slower and faster sections, which works very well; you’ll not hear a more soulful rendering of the overture’s principal theme. Next follows an effective version of Salome’s Dance; Nelsons gets credit for good pacing, though the success of this piece depends as well on brilliant orchestral playing, definitely not in short supply here.

It’s with the final two movements that this still-developing musician best reveals his potential. Nelsons sustains a level of tension throughout the Largo, exploiting the potential for cumulative expressive power that derives from that movement’s passacaglia form. With the transition into the tentative sunlight of the Finale, it’s abundantly clear that Nelsons “gets” Shostakovich’s message about the futility of war and the composer’s deep questioning of what was accomplished by all the carnage he’d just witnessed.

The entire concert is very effectively filmed by a director (Ute Feudel) who obviously understands the construction and meaning of the music, and the visuals are stunning. Close-ups of individual players are very involving—the extended bass clarinet passage in the last movement, or the cello solo that follows shortly thereafter. © 2012 Fanfare

Jeffrey Kauffman, August 2012

Conductor Andris Nelsons…leads the Concertgebouw Orchestra in a thrilling rendition of the Eighth in this concert which was part of the 2011 Lucerne Festival.

The second pre-Eighth Symphony piece here is one of the most spectacular orchestral showcases by that “showiest” of composers and orchestrators, Richard Strauss. His “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome is a typically over the top piece of faux Orientalism as poured through the prism of Strauss’ peculiarly ostenstatious orchestral vocabulary. This is a piece literally exploding with percussive fury, and Nelsons makes the most of what is one of the most colorful pieces of this composer’s almost always hyperbolically colored oeuvre. The dynamic range of this piece is astounding, and in fact makes for a perfectly appropriate prelude to Shostakovich’s Eighth, which also has huge variances in dynamics, from the whisper of individual winds and reeds to some incredibly bombastic effects with tympani.

Andris Nelsons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 from the 2011 Lucerne Festival is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Unitel Classica and C Major…This is a sparklingly clear and well defined high definition presentation recorded in the KKL Luzern Concerthall. Despite the fact that Nelsons is clad entirely in black and is surrounded by a dimly lit concert hall, black levels are really excellent and there is no crush whatsoever, with clearly delineated differences between Nelsons’ outfit and the surrounding darkness. The camera coverage of this concert is superb, including some incredibly up close and personal shots…which captures some exceptional fine detail.

The Royal Concertgebouw is a bit reserved in the Rienzi Overture, perhaps appropriately so, but they let their hair down…in a rousing “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome, and then show both their restrained and extroverted sides in a beautifully detailed reading of Shostakovich’s Eighth. This Blu-ray features excellent video and audio…Recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, August 2012

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays brilliantly throughout the symphony and in the other two works as well. The Rienzi Overture is moderately paced and quite effectively captures the spirit of early Wagner; that is, Nelsons doesn’t attempt to search out profoundities that aren’t there, but instead captures the work’s colorful and slightly pompous character. The Strauss Dance of the Seven Veils is also moderately paced, but features a thrilling ending. Overall, it is highly atmospheric, quite effective in capturing the sinister sensuality of the piece.

The camera work is excellent throughout and the sound reproduction quite vivid. All in all, this is an attractive offering by Unitel Classica/C Major. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, May 2012

what a fine performance it is, from that glorious trumpet solo at the start through to those dance-like episodes and imposing climax. There’s plenty of bite and amplitude here…Nelsons shapes the music so naturally and builds tension so well; besides, it’s clear from his endearingly goofy grin that he’s enjoying every minute of this effervescent score.

…how does the Shostakovich fare? The start of the first movement has seldom sounded so inward, its pulse so faint; as for those upward, string-driven spirals they’re superbly done. Immediately one senses Nelsons has this music at his expressive fingertips, the manic energy and big, rolling tuttis of the movement’s second half dispatched with terrific weight and splendour. It’s the inner landscape that impresses most, the drained, bloodless ending both miraculous and moving. True, the sound isn’t quite as expansive or as three-dimensional as that on Sado’s Shostakovich 5, but it hardly matters when the Concertgebouw play with such sophistication and subtlety, or when the performance is so gripping.

The twitching Allegretto is equally arresting, rhythms drum tight and articulation pin sharp. Nelsons’ tempi are perfectly judged too, the minutes passing swiftly and with oodles of ear-caressing detail. This is shaping up to be a remarkable performance, the Allegro non troppo blessed with a transported trumpet solo that’s every bit as thrilling—nay, intoxicating—as that on Mravinsky’s live Amsterdam CD (Philips). And if that weren’t enough the timps, side-drum and tam-tam are a knock-out, the long, singing lines of the Largo a masterclass in sustained loveliness. The start of the Allegretto is perkier and more playful than most, that pivotal peroration simply seismic; as for the distilled beauty of the lingering finale, I’ve never been so profoundly moved by it as I was here.

I’m simply awe-struck by the level of insight and understanding that Nelsons brings to this score, making it a worthy companion for the likes of Mravinsky and Wigglesworth—on CD and SACD respectively. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say this is the finest version of the Eighth I’ve heard, irrespective of format. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, May 2012

…there is outstanding videography at work here. Director Ute Feudel gets the perspective on the three orchestral works just right. There is excellent balance between full proscenium and closeups with proper attention to the instrumental highlights. Color balance was also quite good, yielding appropriate brilliance on the brass and warmth on the wood of the strings.

This is a superbly recorded concert, a major point when it comes to presenting a work as rarely heard as the Shostakovich 8th symphony. This is a heavy-handed work with considerable amount of inner voices and the sound engineers at C Major get all right.

Andris Nelsons is a conductor to be reckoned with and I had the distinct feeling that we are getting in on the early phases of a major career. Ultimately, I was won over by the communication between Nelsons and the RCO, feeling secure that it would be a performance that would be very hard to beat. © 2012 Read complete review

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group