Nutcracker / Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 / Hilary Hahn / Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 / Annette Dasch

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker
Liudmila Konovalove (Clara). Vladimir Shishov (Drossimeyer/Prince). Stage Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Corps de Ballet/Students of the Ballet Academy of Vienna State Opera. Children of Vienna State Opera School/Paul Connelly, cond.

WEBER: Oberon Overture. SHOSTAKOVICH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99. BACH: Presto from Violin Sonata No. 1. DVORAK: Symphony No. 8 in G, Op. 88. Slavonic Dance Op. 72 No. 7
Hilary Hahn, violin; Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Maris Janssons, cond.

Music of Schubert, Verdi, Schumann, Berlioz and Gounod performed by soprano Annette Dasch with the Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Marc Piollet
EUROARTS DVD TT: 90 min.+ 30 min. bonus

There are dozens of videos of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece including historic performances, but this new one is very special. Filmed in the Vienna State Opera House October 7, 2012, it featured the famous choreography and staging by Rudolf Nureyev.Paul Connelly conducts the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, the Vienna Opera Ballet is as close to perfection as one could expect, and both leading dancers are in spectacular form and make a handsome couple. Viewed on Blu Ray, the images are brilliantly colorful, with fine audio as well. A terrific release, sure to please. The only debit is that separate tracks aren't provided for individual dances; they surely would have been a convenience for most viewers.

The Berlin Philharmonic's visit to Japan November 26, 2000 was a festive event. A packed Suntory Hall greeted the famed orchestra with Maris Janssons on the podium. The program began with Weber's Oberon Overture (hardly a "zesty" work as described in DVD notes) and continued with an intense and very beautiful account of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Hilary Hahn as sterling soloist (two years later, Hahn made her famous recording of the work with the Oslo Philharmonic directed by Hugh Wolff). As an encore, we have a dazzling performance of the Bach sonata excerpt. Janssons ends the concert with Dvorák's Symphony No. 8, which seems to be a favorite of his—recordings with the Oslo Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw. His attention to detail is remarkable; he seems to be micro-managing almost every bar, with remarkable results, and the BPO does what he asks.

German soprano Annette Dasch recently has enjoyed great success particularly in operas of Mozar. She has appeared with many of today's leading conductors. ande has made quite a few recordings. This DVD is called The Cruel Question referring to the crisis situations faced by mythical women and featuring this unfortunate state as depicted by Schubert, Berlioz, Goounod, Verdi and Schumann. Dasch is accompanied by the Munich Radio Orchestra directed by Marc Piollet in this concert filmed on an unspecified date in 2011 in Munich's Herkulesaal The soprano introduces each work speaking rather extensively about each selection and the audience seems to relate to what she has to say. However, her singing here is unexceptional. Her wide vibrato is ever apparent, and often she is off pitch. This is worrisome at this early stage of her career. Also we have a half-hour film by Annette Schreier called That is why music is the most important thing, a portrait of the soprano. I cannot find any lasting value in this DVD.

R.E.B. (October 2014)