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Songs of Love and Desire: Berlin New Year Concert 1998 (DVD DG)

Songs of Love and Desire (DVD)

Berlin New Year’s Eve Concert

Berlin Gala_DVD

Conductor Claudio Abbado
Director Hans Hulscher
Christine Schäfer
Simon Keenlyside
Mirella Freni
Marcelo Álverez
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Label Tdk UK Ltd
Code DVSG1998
Recorded at the Berlin Gala (Silvesterkonzert), 1998
Released November 1, 2002
Running time 91 minutes
Edition details Region 0, PAL, Widescreen
Technical Details Sound Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Track listing

W A Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
OvertureW A Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
“Deh, vieni, non tardar, o gioia bella” [CS]

W A Mozart: Don Giovanni
Deh, vieni alla finestra” [SK]

W A Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” [CS, SK]

W A Mozart: Don Giovanni
Finch’han dal vino” [SK]

W A Mozart: Don Giovanni
Là ci darem la mano” [CS, SK]

G Bizet: L’Arlésienne

G Rossini: La gazza ladra

G Verdi:Rigoletto
E il sol dell’anima – Addio, addio, speranza ed anima” [CS, MA]

G Verdi: Rigoletto
Caro nome che il mio cor” [CS]

G Verdi: Rigoletto
La donna è mobile” [MA]

G Verdi: Un ballo in maschera
Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima” [SK].

H Berlioz: Le Carnaval Romain.

P Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin

P Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
“Pushkai pogibnu ya, no pryezhde” [MF] (Letter Scene)

Guiseppe Verdi: La Traviata
“Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” [MF, CS, SK, MA]

What the critics say

Alan Blyth for Gramophone, April 2004

“A mixed bag of operatic nuggets distinguished by Keenlyside’s contribution”

I wonder why it has taken four years for this DVD of one of Berlin’s traditional New Year concerts to be issued. That interval serves to make the event somewhat poignant, catching Abbado seemingly in full health before illness struck him down. His orchestra is in its most responsive form in this eclectic programme, making some and supporting the singers with notable sensitivity.

The opening group of Mozart items could hardly be better sung. Apart from missing appoggiaturas, Christine Schäfer’s ‘Deh vieni, non tardar’ is sweet and enticing. Simon Keenlyside’s account of Giovanni’s Serenade is seductive and suave, his ‘Champagne’ aria a bravura performance. The pair are delightful as Pamina and Papageno, with a nicely timed and touching exchange of a feather seconding their ‘Bei Männern’. Switching to Zerlina and Giovanni, they are again neatly paired in ‘Là ci darem la mano’.

Schäfer reappears as Gilda, now with Marcelo Álvarez as her partner, to give a foretaste of their assumption of the roles at Covent Garden in the McVicar staging of Rigoletto, now on DVD (BBC Opus Arte, 6/02), vocally adept but a shade wanting in individuality. No, the desirable Verdi item here is Keenlyside’s heartfelt, faultlessly Verdian account of ‘Eri tu’, his baritone perfectly placed for the aria’s many demands.

After a rousing account of the Polonaise from Onegin, Mirella Freni appears as Tatyana. Though one marvels that at 63 she could sing the long scena in such an accomplished fashion, one rather wishes she hadn’t, given a tone now understandably frayed. She closes the concert with the Traviata ‘Libiamo’, a rather grotesque happening. This sort of event is never satisfactory, musically speaking, but the contributions of Keenlyside, Schäfer (in part), Abbado and his band make it worth watching and hearing.

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