DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde cond. by Neeme Jarvi, Blu-ray (2013)

Neeme Jarvi takes control of a very noted Swiss orchestra.

Published on March 8, 2014

MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde cond. by Neeme Jarvi, Blu-ray (2013)

Program: MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde; R. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklarung
Performers: Paul Groves, tenor/ Thomas Hampson, bar./ Orch. de la Suisse Romande/ Neeme Jarvi
Producer: Allan Altman
Studio: VAI 8201 [www.vaimusic.com] 
Video: 1080p HD for 16:9 color
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: German, English, French, Japanese
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: ***

This is a video recording of the inaugural concert of Neeme Jarvi’s assumption of the post as Music and Artistic Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, a band that has a very laudable history though one that has not always been known for its orchestral finesse. In recent years this seems to be changing, and one hopes Jarvi’s tenure will be a successful one.

The video work and sound on this release are very good indeed, the camera not intrusive, and the music allowed to take center stage without too many clever camerawork angles. As far as performances go, nothing here really stands out; the Mahler works the best, in no little part because of Thomas Hampson’s seasoned and solid mature expression in a piece he has done many times before, and Jarvi’s reading is broad, sensitive, and forlorn. It’s not the greatest interpretation out there, but I would have been very satisfied to hear this in concert.

The Strauss is not as good; Jarvi lets the thing run its course without much interference, but Strauss is a composer who almost demands interference, and this piece in particular has to build in a particular manner for its full power to be felt. I get bombast but not much buildup, and the climactic passages lack true expressivity and catharsis. It’s not a bad performance, but nothing special.

Worth it for the Mahler, and as a token of Jarvi’s ascension.

—Steven Ritter




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