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Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, July 2012

Right from those opening figures on the double basses it’s clear this is going to be a performance of spontaneity and spirit, the camera cutting to key players when they get the chance to shine. And shine they do, the Concertgebouw as animated as they were the night before. On the podium Nelsons is equally alert, his boyish grin a sign that he’s having fun.

And who wouldn’t, with such thoroughbreds between the shafts? As for the concerto, a warhorse that seldom gets the performance it deserves, it’s played with tremendous brio. Bronfman fingerwork is clear and unmannered, and the orchestra responds with alacrity to Nelsons’ firm tug of the reins. Balances are generally fine…the Allegro is both passionate and elegant, and tempi are well judged; there’s plenty of thrust too…

Scheherazade[’s]…terrifying start nearly blew me out of my seat. Having set the volume to a comfortable level for the Beethoven I was not prepared for such an assault on my senses; goodness, this really is Rimsky for the IMAX age, the brass- and timp-drenched climaxes simply crushing. The quieter moments are just as arresting, the Sultana’s beguiling narrative superbly evoked by the violin and harp.

As for ‘The Story of the Kalender Prince’ it’s packed with incident and colour, the many close-ups a reminder of just how virtuosic this piece is, and how exposed players are at times. There’s firm, characterful playing from the woodwinds, and the formidable battery of trombones sounds especially baleful. The big, bold recording handles these dynamic swings with aplomb…As always, Nelsons is engrossed in the music, and it’s impossible not to succumb to his obvious and infectious enthusiasm.

That’s one of the unexpected joys of this concert; everyone is clearly having fun. The tender music of ‘The Young Prince and the Young Princess’ is most eloquently done, and Nelsons shapes the dance-like episodes very persuasively. It’s the final movement, with its festival and shipwreck, that will take your breath away. The intimidating roar of this orchestra in full spate really confirms the sonic potential of Blu-ray; indeed, I’ve never heard that dash of spray, crack of sail and final cataclysm as powerfully realised as it is here. Those final, sinuous bars – as if enclosing these tales in parentheses – are simply overwhelming in their simplicity and charm.

A delightful overture, a competent concerto, and a Scheherazade to die for. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Nicholas Sheffo
Fulvue Drive-in, June 2012

I think this program sounds a little better and plays a bit better than the previous release…for simply having the orchestra play classics with no vocals, this is a solid release…you’d have to like the pieces performed…they are good and well done here. A nicely illustrated booklet including informative text in more than one language and four trailers for other C Major Blu-rays are the…extras. © 2012 Fulvue Drive-in Read complete review

Jeffrey Kauffman, May 2012

Beethoven’s The Ruins of Athens: Overture (Op. 113) is an interesting study in contrasts, starting off almost hesitantly with repeated string motives and then bursting forth into that full tutti glory that is so redolent of the composer.

Pianist Yefim Bronfman takes the stage for the next two offerings. This big, hulking keyboard master almost dwarfs the concert grand he sits in front of, but despite his size, he’s a remarkably facile player, barely breaking a sweat as he tears through the protean difficulty of one of Beethoven’s most challenging pieces.

There’s probably not a more colorful piece in the orchestral repertoire than Rimsky-Korsakov’s venerable evergreen, and Nelsons does a good job extracting every ounce of meaning from Rimsky-Korsakov’s rather opulent sonic palette…this is a gorgeous reading of an all time favorite.

Nelsons closes out the concert with Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in A flat major (Op. 46/3)…It’s a brief but colorful piece and brings this nicely varied concert to an enjoyable close.

This is generally a very sharp and detailed looking high definition presentation…Fine detail is very good to excellent throughout…While colors are very rich and natural looking…this is a very appealing presentation which should please lovers of classical concert videos.

The orchestral colors are very natural sounding and are well splayed across the sound field. There’s also some really wide and varied dynamic range on display throughout this concert.

Nelsons proves himself to be a very able conductor…and Bronfman is of course one of the protean keyboard talents of our time, bringing a commanding presence to his reading of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. All in all…this is a really nicely varied concert program, and it shows that Nelsons can handle just about anything, especially when he’s working with an orchestra of the Royal Concertgebouw’s capabilities. Recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, May 2012

In a recent series of Blu-rays from C Major come a pair featuring the young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. This first release is a concert recorded in September 2011 and filled with musical treasures. Nelsons leads his Dutch forces through a brisk rendition of Beethoven’s overture, “The Ruins of Athens,” followed in suit by a masterful collaboration with piano soloist Yefim Bronfman in Beethoven’s final piano concerto, No. 5. Bronfman throws in an encore, the Chopin etude in F major. The proceedings heat up considerably with a reading of Rimsky-Korsakov’s extended symphonic tone poem, Scheherzade, Nelsons and the RCO leave the audience fully sated with Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in A flat major.  The C Major crew contribute superb sights and sounds, making for a generous evening of top-rank music-making.

The level of videography that we are getting from a number of the European video houses is quite high, and this performance does not lower the bar or disappoint. Director Ute Feudel…gives us terrific balance between individual members of the orchestra, pianist Bronfman, and the animated stick work of maestro Nelsons.

The piano tone and dynamics are simply gorgeous; you get to hear every note, clear as bell, a tribute to microphony and soloist Bronfman. The sonic wash of Rimsky-Korsakov’s best known major work is luxurious and entrancing.

Even if you already own Blu-ray performances of these two well known masterpieces, I do not think that you will get either one laid down much better than is done here. Bronfman is a powerhouse pianist who knows when to pull out and to rein in the stops. This BD will give viewers just cause to rejoice that there are performers like Bronfman and Nelsons out there today making fabulous music which can be enjoyed any time in the comfort of home. © 2012 Read complete review

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