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Robert Maxham
Fanfare, November 2011

Bell…draws forth a pure and crystal-clear tone from the higher registers of the 1713 Gibson-Huberman Stradivari, and builds the passagework to an impressive climax…

Oramo’s and the orchestra’s performance of Jean Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony, recorded, again, with startling fidelity, conveys a strong sense of the music’s elemental power…

Strongly recommended overall…

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, September 2011

NOBEL PRIZE CONCERT 2010 - BEETHOVEN, L. van / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I. / SIBELIUS, J. (Bell, Oramo) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10215

A notable concert event, though the presentation has little of the gala about it

The Nobel Prize Concert is now a traditional element of the modern Award celebrations, given on December 8 each year, by chance also Sibelius’s birthday. Last year marked his 145th anniversary as well as the 95th of the Fifth Symphony’s premiere (in its original guise), though the programming of the final version was apparently entirely coincidental. Sakari Oramo elicits a decent performance from the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, building the tension very capably in the opening Tempo molto moderato and moving the Andante mosso, quasi allegretto along with a nice judgment, the brass snarling with real menace in their brief outburst. As usual, the concluding Allegro molto follows with barely a second’s pause (I wish conductors would give the music more room to breathe here) generating much excitement if not quite the incandescence Sibelius surely wanted.

For many the main event here is Joshua Bell who turns in a fine account of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, ably supported by Oramo—credit where credit is due, a fine orchestral accompanist. In the expansive opening Allegro moderato, both relish the inherent drama and passion as well as its winning lyrical impulse. The Canzonetta is sweetly delivered and the concluding Allegro vivacissimo dances along pleasingly. The resultant ovation was well deserved, as was that for Beethoven’s Leonore No 3, conducted from memory by Oramo and delivered with sincere relish by the players.

It is curious, given the concert’s high profile, that there is a want of atmosphere in the resulting video presentation. Not so much Swedish reserve as the video direction being less inspired than the goings-on onstage, with some rather foursquare and unimaginative camerawork, but do look out for the wonderfully expressive principal bassoonist. As a record of a notable event it does feel flat. The sound is not, however, so listen and enjoy. Of the bonus interviews, that with Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa is the pick.

Lawrence Devoe, June 2011

The Film

The Nobel Prize Concert is an annual highlight of the Nobel Prize awards week in Stockholm, Sweden. Each year’s program features the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and world-renown soloists and ensembles. The 2010 concert was no exception with principal conductor, Sakari Oramo, leading the Royal Philharmonic. The program focused on American violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell, performing one of the staples of the violin repertory, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D Major. The generous concert began with Beethoven’s Third Leonore Overture and concluded with the mighty Sibelius Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major. As befits the importance of this occasion, there is top-flight music-making. While I was not previously familiar with maestro Oramo, it was immediately obvious that he knew his forces well, had excellent control over the musical pulse, and gave his soloist excellent support. Most Bell performances are self-recommending and this was no exception. The Tchaikovsky is a “heart-on-the-sleeve” piece that suits violinist Bell to a tee. Of the accompanying two works, particular note should be given to Oramo’s affinity with fellow Finn, Jean Sibelius’s symphonic masterpiece.

Video Quality

Director Michael Beyer, a familiar figure on the classical concert scene, has risen to the top of this field. The videography here is consistently magnificent with dramatic lighting and deft balance between the full orchestral forces, conductor Oramo and the very active soloist Bell. Visual details of the musicians and their instruments are among the best that I have ever seen. This is a treat considering the beauty of Bell’s violin, a 1713 Huberman Stradivarius. While those inhabiting the royal box certainly had a good view of the proceedings, lucky viewers of this Blu-ray disc will enjoy an even better seat!

Audio Quality

This is a concert that is annually broadcast both nationally and internationally under the aegis of the Nobel Foundation. Consequently, those involved in the sound recording have had plenty of experience with this hall. This certainly shows in the excellent coverage of the orchestral forces where the individual instrumental voices are clearly heard. Take as examples the bassoon solo in the first movement of the Sibelius symphony, the brass chorale with tympani concluding its second movement, and the pizzicato opening of the third movement. In the Tchaikovsky concerto, the soloist is up-front but well balanced against the supporting players. Having heard this piece a number of times in large halls, this is a most realistic recreation of a big-time violin concerto. Surround sound is very discrete and gives a good sense of the hall acoustics.

Supplemental Materials

There are very brief but insightful interviews with Joshua Bell, Sakari Oramo, and Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Laureate for literature. I would have loved some coverage of the Nobel Prize Concert itself, its history, background, and brief vignettes from previous years.

The Definitive Word


This BD offering sets the bar extremely high for competing future BD versions of these works. The Nobel Prize Concert is a prime example of synergy between conductor, soloist, orchestra, director, and the video and audio engineers who supported these efforts. The artistic values are high and with respect to both sound and picture, this disc approaches reference level. Classical music lovers of all backgrounds will find that this concert gives an outstanding account of three orchestral masterpieces from different eras and national origins. While for many, the main attraction of this concert will be the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, I can assure you that the Sibelius 5th symphony is as good an account of this incredibly moving work as I have ever heard. The end credits suggest that the audience was in full agreement with my opinion. Accentus Music is newcomer to the video business having begun operations in 2010. If this Nobel Prize Concert disc is any indication of their growing catalog, then I will look forward eagerly to more of their offerings in the future.

Robert Benson, June 2010

This site mentioned a DVD of the 2009 Nobel Prize concert featuring the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic conducted by Yuri Temirkanov with Martha Argerich as soloist. Now we have the following year’s concert recorded December 8, 2010, with the same orchestra directed by Sakari Oramo and Joshua Bell as soloist in the Tchaikovsky’s concerto. Finnish conductor Oramo has been music director of the Swedish orchestra since 2008 and has made a number of recordings with them and other orchestras. He collaborates with Lisa Batiashvili in the Sibelius concerto, accompanied Stephen Hough in the award-winning set of Saint-Saëns piano concertos, as well as many contemporary works by Scandinavian composers. The Prize concert is excellent in every way, with Bell a dynamic soloist in the familiar concerto. The Sibelius Symphony No. 3 is the only one by that composer Oramo has previously recorded (with the City of Birmingham Orchestra which he led from 1998–2008). Doubtless we can expect more Sibelius with Oramo, who obviously has uncommon insight into his compatriot’s music. The Blu-Ray version includes brief interviews with the conductor and soloist as well as Mario Vargas Liosa, the winner of the 2010 Laureat in Literature. It seems odd this “bonus” is only on Blu-Ray; it easily could have been included on the regular DVD.

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