Bernstein delivered a powerful and now legendary live performance of Beethovens String Quartet Op. 135 transcribed for String Orchestra and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. For the first time ever this performance is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray. Another definitive Bernstein performance debuting now on both mediums is the enigmatic maestros reading of Haydns Missa in tempore belli, filmed live in concert at Ottobeuren in 1984, using to maximum effect the deeply impressive setting of the monasterys magnificent Baroque basilica.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is a cultural ambassador for Israel, and is regarded as one of the best orchestras in the world. Recorded in the Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv in March 2010, this concert sees the Israel Philharmonic conducted in this all-Beethoven programme by the eminent conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman. After the Egmont Overture, Perlman and the orchestra are joined by the Perlman/Schmidt/Bailey Trio for the beautiful ‘Triple’ Concerto. The programme concludes with the rousing and evocative ‘Pastoral’ Symphony.
Götterdämmerung, the final instalment of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung, is a story of human passions. Two essentially benevolent creatures, involved with and possibly doomed by their traffic with the gods, find treachery and evil in the world of the humans, and are ruined by the dark side of humanity.
Iréne Theorin, acclaimed worldwide for her portrayal of Wagner’s heroines, stars as Brünnhilde opposite Lance Ryan, who continues his radiant portrayal of the tragic hero Siegfried. The strong cast also includes Mikhail Petrenko as the dark antagonist Hagen and Johannes Martin Kränzle, who once again shines as his father Alberich. Waltraud Meier has a memorable appearance as Brünnhilde’s sister Waltraute.
In Siegfried, the “Second Day” or third evening of the Ring Cycle, we meet the pivotal hero of the epic tale. The energetic drive from Die Walküre is pursued here while Siegfried finally recaptures the mighty ring from Fafner the Dragon and awakens Brünnhilde from her penal sleep on the great rock.
Lance Ryan, having interpreted this role on the greatest stages of the world including the Bayreuth Festival, portrays the naïve hero. His antagonists are Peter Bronder, great and agile as Mime, Terje Stensvold, an experienced Wanderer and Johannes Martin Kränzle, who continues his mean and deceitful depiction of Alberich. The leading ladies are Nina Stemme, once again unrivalled as Brünnhilde and Anna Larsson, moving as the God-mother Erda.
Richard Wagner called Die Walküre the “first evening” of the Ring of the Nibelung; he called Das Rheingold the prologue or Vorabend. Musically and dramatically, we are introduced to a radically new and different world when the opening bars of Die Walküre resound. A fully developed orchestral palette of Leitmotivs paints a wild storm scene, and the curtain rises on a modest dwelling: a fully human scene that has nothing to do with the gods, dwarves and nymphs of Das Rheingold. At the same time, however, the way Die Walküre portrays radical beginnings reveals some telling reminiscences of the unfolding of Das Rheingold. Die Walküre is exciting and deeply feeling drama.
The La Scala Rheingold in May 2010 inaugurated Guy Cassiers Ring-Cycle and introduces a completely new paradigm to this work. While before him Patrice Chéreau had laid his focus on a historical analysis from 1870 to 1930 Germany, Guy Cassiers’ Ring unfolds “from our own present-day moment; it [takes] place in ‘the now’, the Jetztzeit (Walter Benjamin), placing our present and our future into the context of the promises and curses that we have inherited from history … The Cassiers Ring shows how the globalized moment of 2010 continues to build on the Wagnerian vocabularies of 1870.” (Michael Steinberg)
The founding of the Berliner Philharmoniker on the first of May in 1882, is annually celebrated with a concert in a European city of cultural significance. For this newly released EUROPAKONZERT Blu-ray Disc all recordings were lovingly restored and converted to High Definition video. The Berliner Philharmoniker are joined for Mozart’s Motet and Mass on this recording by Christine Schäfer, whose unique timbre and performing style has more than once been likened to those of other vocal greats such as Irmgard Seefried and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. This round of exceptional musicians is completed by Emanuel Ax, winner the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, as the soloist for the works of Chopin and Schumann.