DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic – 40th Anniversary Concert, Blu-ray (2012)

A varied concert by one of the most unusual classical instrumental ensembles in the world today, plus an interesting documentary on the group.

Published on September 9, 2012

The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic – 40th Anniversary Concert, Blu-ray (2012)

The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic – 40th Anniversary Concert, Blu-ray (2012)

Program: (TrackList follows)
Director: Enrique Sanchez Lansch
Studio: EuroArts 2059314 (8/28/12) [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 1080i HD for 16:9
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English, others
All regions
Extras: 59 min. documentary on the 12 Cellists
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: *****

A long and delightful concert by the Berlin Philharmonic’s 12 cellists, plus a 59-minute documentary on their recent travels and interactions. I knew the group—unique among the symphony orchestras of the world—had done a number of CDs over the years which departed considerably from the normal repertory they play within the Berlin Philharmonic, but I didn’t know how many they had done until I checked them out at Amazon.

The documentary covers the history and founding of the unique group in 1972, and a reunion with some of the original founding members, who have by now all been replaced by younger cellists. And for the first time the group has two female cellists. In 1972 they were greatly appreciative of Herbert von Karajan and his whole family showing up at their debut concert. Quite a bit of footage is devoted to the person who seems to be the leader of the ensemble: cellist Ludwig Quandt. There is also an extended portion on the cellists working during rehearsals with Sofia Gubaidulina—the Russian composer of their new work Labyrinth. It must have made the 12 cellists rather nervous to have the composer right at their sides for one of their first rehearsals of the piece. The documentary concludes with their first time to China to perform. There are also concerts in Schleswig-Holstein, and Lucerne, Switzerland.

At first the ensemble seemed stuck in a series of state occasions—performing as ambassadors of the German government, but finally they found a most receptive audience of ordinary people. The challenges of getting all 12 cellists together for rehearsals and performances is also covered. Yet the cellists have never missed a rehearsal of the Berlin Philharmonic in all these years.

For a few of the lighter numbers near the end of the program, the 12 cellists are joined by special guests soprano Annette Dasch and trumpeter Till Brönner, with whom they have worked lately at many of their concerts. The first selection on the program is what got the 12 Cellists started, but for some time it was the only thing in their program booklet. Later they succeed in getting some leading composers to create works especially for them, and today they have moved more strongly into the area of crossover, lighter music selections in terrific arrangements, which their audiences love.

TrackList:

1.

Hymnus for 12 Cellos, Op. 57 by Julius Klengel

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

2.

Aubade, for 12 cellos by Jean Françaix

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

3.

Suite del Angel by Astor Piazzolla

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

4.

María de Buenos Aires: Fuga y misterio by Astor Piazzolla

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

5.

Fleur de Paris by Henry Bourtayre

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

6.

Pavane, Op. 50 by Gabriel Fauré

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

7.

Sous les Ponts de Paris by Vincent Scotto

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

8.

Une femme est une femme: Une femme est une femme by Michel Legrand

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

9.

As Time Goes By by Herman Hupfeld

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

10.

Work(s) by Claude Debussy

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

11.

Vocalise en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

12.

Once Upon a Time in the West: The Man with the Harmonica by Ennio Morricone

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

13.

Caravan by Edward “Duke” Ellington

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

14.

La vie en rose by R. S. Louiguy

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

15.

“Die 12″ in Bossa-Nova by Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

16.

‘Round Midnight by Thelonious Sphere Monk

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

17.

Yesterday by Paul McCartney

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

18.

Work(s) by Various

Performer:  Annette Dasch (Soprano), Till Bronner (Trumpet)

Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic

—John Sunier




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