天方夜谭 —— 柏林爱乐的东方之夜 / 2006柏林森林音乐节
Actors: Berliner Philharmoniker, Janine Jansen, Neeme Järvi, Ingebjorg Kosmo, Marita Solberg Directors: Andreas Morell
This is from a concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Waldbühne ("Forest Stage") in Berlin. The Waldbühne is Berlin's answer to the Hollywood Bowl -- a nice outdoor concert venue that is less formal and more relaxed than an indoor concert hall. At the same time, there are compromises in sound (at least this concert doesn't have helicopters flying overhead -- which was the case at my last visit to the Hollywood Bowl!).
Neeme Jarvi, formerly of the Detroit and New Jersey symphony orchestras and now chief conductor at the Hague's Residentie Orkest, puts on a great concert here, a nice evening with kind of an "Arabian Nights" theme. It features a very lyrical reading of Rimsky's "Scheherezade", in which the BPO's first Koncertmeister Daniel Stabrawa (not Janine Jansen) takes the solo parts.
Janine Jansen comes on for a brief but spectacular Meditation from "Thaïs" by Massenet and a great "Introduction and Rondo capriccioso" by Saint-Saens. Her appearance clocks in at only about a quarter hour, however, so you may want to think twice if you are buying it for her (looking fabulous in her red dress, by the way).
There are also Scandinavian pieces that somehow fit into the European fantasy-Middle-Eastern theme very well -- excerpts from Grieg's "Peer Gynt" and from Nielsen's "Aladdin". The whole thing kicks off with the overture from Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio".
The exotic theme fades out for the finale, a short "Berliner Luft" by Lincke, but that is made up for by the fact that the Berliners in the audience go nuts and start whistling and dancing like maniacs. So does Jarvi, for that matter -- dancing, although not whistling. Forget your staid German stereotypes: while well-to-do Berliners cutting loose at a classical concert may not be exactly rowdy, it's still quite entertaining to watch.
A previous reviewer mentioned Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The comparison is apt -- this is a "pops" style concert. The quality of the audio is very good for being recorded at an outdoor venue, but it is still not the controlled environment of a studio or concert hall, and the sound gets a bit thin at times. That all being said, it is a very pleasant concert.
I was debating whether to give it four or five stars. I might have been too harsh with four, since for its own "light classic" or "pops" genre it really is a great recording and a masterful performance. It's just not Mahler, if you know what I mean. I also have a bias against taking excerpts out of works -- in general, I'd prefer a whole "Peer Gynt" and "Aladdin" to bits and bobs. I'd probably give four and half stars if I could.