Dances & Dreams

 

Berliner Philharmoniker Dances & Dreams gala 2012 New Year's concert. (This was performed December 31, 2011.) Sir Simon Rattle conducts.  Here is the program:

  • Dvořák - Slavonic Dance No. 1
  • Grieg - Symphonic Dance No. 2
  • Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor (Evgeny Kissin )
  • Ravel - Alborada del gacioso
  • Strauss - "Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salome
  • Stravinsky - The Firebird (Danse infernale, Berceuse, and Finale)
  • Brahms - Hungarian Dance No. 1
  • Dvořák - Slavonic Dance No. 7

Directed for TV by Henning Kasten; Lighting Operator was Günter Euringer; Sound Engineer was Peter Hecker; Audio Producers were Caroline Siegers and Askan Siegfried; Audio Engineers were Tilo Feinermann and Ralf Bünning; Vison Miker was Sven Bülter; Executive Producer was Bernd Hellthaler. Released  2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

We exclude most of the New Year's galas and the like for having trivial content. But Dances and Dreams is an exception with 7 exciting pieces by grandmaster composers, Evgeny Kissin playing, and our favorite Chancellor, Frau Merkel, in the audience. Most of this was fiendishly hard music, but with the great Berliner Philharmoniker on stage, it just looked like fun. Anyone lucky enough to see this live will likely long remember it.

But, alas, the recording is not memorable. The sound recording is mushy with weak miking and mixing.  PQ is soft with strange color issues maybe caused by a lot of  blue lights around the orchestra. But worse of all is a discouraging case of DVDitis with a fast pace, too many architectural shots during the performance, way too many shots of Rattle (both close up and over-the-backs-of-musicians), too much jumping around showing shots of small groups, and lots of pointless instrument-only shots. Missing were enough shots of whole string sections and proper whole-orchestra views. Finally, there were too many unrealistic shots of Kissen, who turned in a magnificent report on the Grieg concerto.  

For a run-of-the-mill program, we would knock this title down to a D+ for the DVDitis. But this is such a nice show, we relent and boost the grade to C+. This probably looked OK on SD TV and in a DVD version. Maybe you can tolerate the shortcomings in your HT if you are warned in advance.

Here's a nice official YT clip (that looks better on our computer monitor than the disc looks in our HT). Seems the clip opens with a horrible conductor-over-backs shot: