The Danish National Symphony Orchestra performs four symphonies on this Blu-ray disc. Brahms' First and Dvorak's Ninth are two of the best known symphonies in the classical repertoire, while Sibelius' Fifth and Nielsen's Third are only slightly less well known. The performances are in the darkly modern Copenhagen Koncerthuset, in all its amber-hued, wood-paneled glory.
Brahms' First is widely regarded as the finest first symphony by any classical composer. Brahms' contemporary Hans von Bulow, a renowned pianist and conductor, declared it without irony to be "Beethoven's Tenth". Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's Ninth was written while he was temporarily resident in the United States, and carries the title "From the New World", its most famous passage being familiar as "Going Home". Sibelius' Fifth is one of his two most popular symphonies, the other being the Second, both of which effectively evoke the grandeur of his native Finland. Nielsen is known as Denmark's greatest classical composer, and his Third is the last of his more traditional symphonies before he embarked on "modern" styles of music.
The music under the direction of conductor Thomas Dausgaard is beautiful, the audio production excellent, the video razor sharp. But there are thorns in that sharpness. The camera technique employed many extreme close-ups, so tight that the faces and the instruments of the woodwind or brass players cannot entirely be seen. As a performer moves, his face and/or the instrument he is playing bob in and out of the frame. This effect, combined with rapid cutting from player to player, makes for an unpleasant sensation approaching vertigo.
From the static views or slow pans of the 1960s and 70s, to the focus on small groups of players in the 1980s and 90s, camera technique evolved rapidly with the advent of high definition in the first decade of the 21st Century. Now close-ups are the thing, and they have been pushed a bit too far in this production. The music is great, but in the words of a welder friend, you might need to "avert your eyes" occasionally to avoid getting seasick. Or simply watch the production one symphony at a sitting instead of in a marathon concert.
The interviews with Thomas Dausgaard, conducted in English, are informative and well worth a listen, providing enjoyable insight into the music and the conductor's vision regarding how he tries to bring it to life.
This Blu-ray offers nearly three hours of wonderful music, well performed by a top-flight orchestra. All things considered, it is a worthy addition to a classical music video collection.
- Studio: C Major Entertainment
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- ASIN: B01GWDH36M