2002 Europakonzert: Claudio Abbado conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2002 at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily. This was the traditional Europakonzert performed on May 1 each year by the Berliner Philharmoniker in a special venue, usually in a different European city. Gil Shaham was the violin soloist.
Here are the selections on this title:
Beethoven 'Egmont' Overture
Brahms Violin Concerto
Dvořák Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"
Verdi Overture to Les Vêpres siciliennes
TV direction by Bob Coles. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade B for both the Brahms and the Dvořák.
This title was shot in 2002 to be a DVD, so there is some degree of DVDitis throughout the later Blu-ray version. But Bob Coles got enough large-scale shots in his video, especially in the violin concerto, to make this a pleasant recording even in 1080i.
The Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily is an exceptionally beautiful and cozy house that seems to be taller than it is long or wide with tier on tier of elegant box seats crowned by a glorious ceiling fresco. They probably don't get the Berliner Philharmoniker in Palermo every day. So there were no empty seats for this, and everybody was dressed as they would for a coronation. The orchestra seemed inspired. The audience gave rapt attention to the relatively meaty program right up to what they were really looking foward to: the Overture to Les Vêpres siciliennes! This dramatic number is, we take it, the unofficial National Anthem of Sicily. By the time the orchestra finished, folks were on their feet and flowers were in the air. You just can't get kind of sense of the event from a CD.
The overture to The Sicilian Vespers opera has a famous tympani part. In concert versions of this overture, the conductors like to double the tympani with a bass drum for even more mystery. With loudspeakers, this recording of the overture makes the furniture rattle everwhere we played it. We had better luck with headphones or by turning the woofer way down or off.
Here's an old YouTube clip: