Europa Konzert 2011: Madrid [Blu-ray]
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic with guitarist Canizares in works by Chabrier, Rodrigo, and Rachmaninov.
The Berlin Philharmonic have just completed two decades traveling to a different country of Europe every May 1st for their anniversary concert. The Second Europa Konzert was conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the Escorial in 1992, with the assistance of Placido Domingo singing several operatic segments. The Escorial has far too resonant an acoustic, and the building battled the musicians through the whole concert. Now the Twenty-First Europa Konzert was been conducted by Simon Rattle at a far more favorable venue, the Teatro Real in Madrid. The video contains a nice balance of close-ups and long-shots, and allows one to get a sense of the house, which has a very deep amphitheater. The blu-ray clarity allows one to see the various cameras at work, one rolling back and forth right in front of the stage and filming both audience and performers from a low angle. That angle becomes extremely important during the featured middle piece, the Concierto de Aranjuez, but also plays a nice role in the other two.
It is a shame to bring the Berlin Philharmonic all the way down from Germany and then excuse half of them for the middle feature, which requires much smaller orchestral forces. They conclude the evening with a magnificent performance of Rachmaninoff's second symphony, which shows they had more music in them than the program let them play. One wonders why the Russian composer appears in the Spanish concert, and the only connection I can think of is stylistic. Rodrigo and Rachmaninoff were both romantic composers, and their pieces on this program are among the most nostalgic ever written.
Cañizares (full name Juan Manuel Cañizares) gives a flamenco-flavored account of the concerto. Some of the orchestral players seated behind him seem a little dubious about his interpretation. No doubt he brings out a quality of the music that would not be accessible otherwise. Cañizares once collaborated with his fellow flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia on a recording which included this concerto, so he brings some experience to the performance. It is good to have a recent high-definition audio recording of the concerto to add to one's collection, and a little different take on the old war-horse is certainly welcome. The piece was played throughout the Franco period (1940-1978) for its nostalgic qualities, like a dirge for the trauma of the Civil War. In 1981 when I visited Spain for the first time, the piece was still streaming from radios all day long. Then later with the triumph of the Socialists the mood of the nation changed, and the music changed with it. Now with perhaps the piece is making a comeback.
- Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: EuroArts
- DVD Release Date: September 27, 2011
- Run Time: 105 minutes
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