NICOLAI: Merry Wives of Windsor Overture. ELGAR: Flstaff, Op. 68. TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64.
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Daniel Barenboim, cond
.EUROARTS DVD TT: 98 min. + 10 min. bonus

BARTÓK: Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra. SCHUBERT: Fantasy in F minor. MOZART: Sonata in D for Two Pianos. DEBSSY: En blanc et noir. Enfante. POULENC: ´Elegie. LUTOSLAWSKI: Variations on a Theme by Paganini. BRAHMS: Hungarian Dance No. 5. MILHAUD: Brasilieras from Scaramouch.
Günther and Süher Pekinel, pianists. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Zubin Mehta, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD/CD TT: 111 nub,(DVD) 61 min. (CD)

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 5 in B flat.
Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Nicholas Harnoncourt, cond.
RCOA LIVE DVD TT: app. 75 min.

Europa Konzert 2014 was a very special concert. It was recorded in Berlin's Philharmonie May 1, 2014 and commemorated Daniel Barenboim's long association with the orchestra. I 1964, a half-century ago, Barenboim first appeared as soloist with the BPO. and since that time has appeared hundreds of time as pianist and as conductor, making many recordings as well. The concert also marked the foundation of the orchestra in 1882. This is a splendid concert in every way showing off the orchestra's virtuosity, ending with a thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. Excellent video and audio.

The Pekinel sisters are featured on Arthaus Musik's 2-disk set. The program is the same on DVD and CD except the CD contains only the Bartók, Schubert, Debussy and Brahms works. This is a spectacle performance of Bartók's masterpiece, and the video editor focuses on percussion appropriately. The works for 2 pianos, or 4 hands on one piano, are elegantly played. A superb release; I wonder why the CD was included, but there is no additional charge for it.

Nicholas Harnoncourt has made many Bruckner symphony recordings with major orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, symphonies 3 and 4. Now we have this live recording of Symphony No. 5 from concerts October 25 and 27, 2013. Phasing seems clipped, and the grandeur of the score suffers. The RCOA has recorded this symphony before with Bernard Haitink, Eugen Jochum and Riccardo Chailly, and all are superior to this. There also is a hard to find live 1959 recording with Eduard van Beinum, perhaps the finest of all. And there is another rare recoding, a performance from 1964 with Jochum on the podium recorded in in the Abbey of the Benedictine Monks in Ottobeuren, once available on Philips. Jochum's association with this symphony and ideas on its interpretation can be found on this site (REVIEW). He added extra brass players for the finale, with exhilarating results. Harnoncourt's interpretation is small-scale although of course beautifully played. .

R.E.B. (October 2014)