Spirits of Music, Part II (2002)

by | Dec 13, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Spirits of Music Part II (2002)

Performances by: Bobby McFerrin, Nigel Kennedy, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Bulgarian Voices, The Kuumba Singers, Mari Boine, Ensemble Al-Kindi, Sibylla Rubens, Veronika Wilhelm
Studio: EuroArts 2052157 all regions (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 1.78:1 enhanced for 16:9 WS
Audio: DTS 5.5, Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: German, French, Italian, English (Interviews)
Extras: Interviews

Length:  117 minutes
Rating: ****

On a summer night in June 2002 150 musicians from  several continents assembled in the Market Square of Leipzig, Germany for a massive outdoor free concert designed to unite classical and world music and in the process to demonstrate the spiritual power of people from around the world sharing their cultures intimately with one another. The evening was so lengthy that it required a pair of DVDs to cover it. We reviewed Part I some time ago, which is equally wonderful, and not called that but “Swinging Bach.”

Bobby McFerrin was the amazing MC of this event, who spoke almost no words but improvised with several of the ensembles using his “wonder voice,” just as he had done in Part I.  His smiling informal presence (with baton tucked into his dreadlocks when he’s not conducting) is key to the good feelings engendered by this whole event. He conducts the orchestra in a lovely performance of the Evening Prayer from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and effectively takes the place of the second cello in a complete performance of Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos and Orchestra. He also conducts the orchestra and soprano Sibylla Rubens in Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem. He gives us two short entirely vocal improvisations and then teams up with genre-bending violinist Nigel Kennedy for a nine-minute spectacular improvisation on Miles Davis “All Blues.” 

A “vocal sampling” ensemble from Cuba throws up a complex Latin salsa percussion sound in two numbers, and the Bulgarian women’s choir open the entire program. Arabic musical culture is represented by the Al-Kindi Ensemble and four Whirling Dervishes of Damascus – providing a striking visual counterpart to the exotic musical sounds. One of the highlights of the interaction between McFerrin and some of the musicians is the Circle Song he performs with the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. Their name means creativity in Swahili and their performance illustrates just that. The big finale of the concert bring together all of the artists on the two adjoining stages required for the concert in a rousing arrangement of Handel’s Hallelujah. The DTS surround is first rate and the widescreen video coverage and DVD transfer is perfect, as one would expect from a Germany production company.

– John Sunier

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