Performers: The Berlin Philharmonic/Kent Nagano; Susan Graham, mezzo/ Eitetsu Hayashi, Taiko drummer/ Mari & Momo Kodama, pianists
Program: BEINTUS: He Got Rhythm; RAVEL: La Valse; Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2; MATSUSHITA: Hi-Ten-Yu; HAYASHI: Utage; JIPING: Suite from Farewell My Concubine; GERSHWIN: 6 Songs
Studio: EuroArts Invitation 2050526
Video: Enhanced for 16:9, color
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English, German, French
No region Code
Length: 112 min.
Recorded live on a warm June night at Berlin’s version of The Hollywood Bowl, this concert is not exactly your typical summer pops concert program. But then the Berlin Philharmonic is not exactly your typical pops orchestra either. Noted Japanese-American conductor Nagano put together a program reflecting some of his Asian cultural heritage, combined with a bunch of can’t-fail-to-please Gershwin.
Instead of including a Gershwin orchestral work such as the Variations On I Got Rhythm, he opens the concert with another strictly instrumental work inspired by that same Gershwin tune, but from a composer he has been championing: Jean-Pascal Beintus. The work features a pair of pianists, and the Kodama sisters, in their matching red gowns, make a striking scene at opposite ends of the two grand pianos. La Valse doesn’t have the impact of a recording made in a hall, but in general the sound thruout the concert is exceptional considering it is all outdoors – especially in the DTS 5.1 option. The diaphanous Daphnis and Chloé Suite is perfect music for a summer evening outdoors. One doesn’t get to hear many Taiko drum concertos, but the over 17 minutes of Matsushita’s mostly atonal concerto was a bit overkill for me, and seeing the prone positions of some of the German audience, probably for them as well. Evidently feeling we haven’t heard enough, this is then followed by a short Taiko-only piece composed by drummer Hayashi. Again, plenty here to exercise your subwoofer(s)! The suite of music from the score of the award-winning Chinese film is a welcome change of pace; it features several Chinese folk instruments in close-up view. Susan Graham shines in the half-dozen Gershwin songs, though it should be noted that this is a classical concert approach to the songs – not a jazz or Broadway treatment. The wrap up to the concert is an audience favorite march, Berliner Luft.
– John Sunier