Shostakovich Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra and Respighi's Fountains and Pines of Rome

Fellini, Jazz & Co. Features the following pieces:

1. Shostakovich Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra
2. Rota La Strada Ballet Suite (Nino Rota composed this for Fellini's La Strade movie)
3. Respighi Fountains of Rome
4. Respighi Pines of Rome
5. Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Suite
6. Respighi Belkis, Regina di Saba
7. Lincke Berliner Luft

Ricardo Chailly conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2011 at its annual summer concert at the Waldbühne.  Each year this concert has a theme name: in 2011 it was Felline, Jazz & Co. Directed for TV by Henning Kasten; produced by Jan Bremme; produced for TV by Dorothea Diekmann.  Released  2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound.  Grade: B

This is a delightful program of fun music, none of which has appeared before in HDVD. It's the 3rd Waldbühne disc to be published. For general information about the Waldbühne concerts, please read the reviews at Rattle conducts Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, and Tchaikovsky and  An Evening with Renée Fleming.

In his youth, Shostakovich played piano for silent films. He later wrote a lot of music for theater orchestras and for movie soundtracks, and he was beloved in Russia for his popular works. During the Great Terror, Shostakovich was attacked in Pravda, but his popularity may have saved his life. He then began a long period of rehabilitating himself politically by writing serious and heavy symphonies and similar classical works. Still, if you know about his origins, you can hear traces of his early popular music amidst all the gloom. The Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra has music that is typical of early Shostakovich. In addition to the normal instruments, the score calls for a saxophone quartet, a guitar, and an accordion. (According to Wikipedia, the correct name for this piece is Suite for Variety Orchestra.)

I never heard of the Rota La Strada Ballet Suite before. It's great and has extensive Jazz elements. It's hard to get a symphony orchestra to swing, but the Berlin Phil manages to pull it off!

Most concert-goers have heard the Respigi Fountains and Pines pieces inspired by the ancient beauty of Rome. There's no jazz in them, but they are among the most popular symphonic tone poems ever written. The Pines of Rome is the one which includes a gramophone as an instrument to play bird songs along with the orchestra.

Of course, the Berlin Phil plays all this with total authority and panache. Of the 3 Waldbühne concerts we now have, this one has the best SQ and PQ. The only problem with the recording is a case of DVDitis. I've described in the reviews linked to about how this dread disease shows up at the Waldbühne concerts, so I'll not cover this ground again. 

This was an A+ performance by the orchestra under Riccardo Chailly. But for lack of audiophile level sound and the DVDitis encountered, I move the grade to a "B."