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Steven Kruger
Fanfare, November 2012

One only has to watch [Andris Nelsons] to be captured immediately by his spell. He combines the stature and gravitas of Thielemann, whom he resembles a bit, the mystical middle-distance dreaminess of Furtwängler, and the playful side of Carlos Kleiber. This is to say, at times he wears joy on his face like a six-year-old, and responds to his own cues with awe. One has only to look at a quiet last chord or two to realize that Nelsons releases notes from his cupped fingers as though they were butterflies. The sound is fabulous, the Beethoven wonderful as well, the emotional result stupendous… © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Steven Kruger
Fanfare, 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 Dvoƙák 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, 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

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