WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
SHARON ISBIN - Troubadour
As a performance, this new Flying Dutchman is one of the finest. Taped at the Zurich Opera in 2013, it has an outstanding cast headed by Bryn Terfel's powerful Dutchman. He is ideal for the role, and sensitive to the character's beliefs and delusion Anja Kampe's Senta is nspired, and, a superb actress, she convincingly conveys the woman's torments. And we have the luxury of Fnnish bass Matti Sallminen as Daland. Born in 1945, he made his debut as King Phillip in Don Carlo wen only 25, and since that time has been performing leading roles in major opera houses of he world since. He is renowned for his Boris Godunov, as well as Mozart, Verdi and Wagner. He first sang Daland at Bayr.h in 1978, and still retains his rich, resonant and controlled voice. Not up to that level, but adequate, is Marco Jantzsch as Eric. The orchestra and chorus are superb under Alain Altinoglu's dynamic direction. As a viewing experience, things are different. Stage Director Andreas Homoki has some bizarre ideas about this masterpiece. The focus throughout is Dalang's office where is he directs his trade business with Africa, and he is surrounded by his staff and secretaries, all in modern cloches. Not a sign of a sailor anywhere, a spinning wheel, nor of a ship. The simple dark set designed by Wolfgang Gussmann is a large dark panel that sometimes turns to reveal various images—the sea, a storm, and a map. In the opera, Wagner Senta throws herself into the sea when she realizes and cannot be with the Dutchman; however, as there is no sea, she shoots herself with a rifle. I'm not making this up. The fact remains that this is an outstanding performance, but diminished considerably by the director's conception.
Daniel Barenboim continues his series of Bruckner's "mature" symphonies with this DVD of Symphony No. 9. This site has unenthusiastically mentioned their previous recordings of No. 4 (REVIEW). Staatskapelle Berlin has a very long tradition among the world's great orchestras, dating back more than four centuries. Barenboim was appointed ted music director in 1992, and in 2000 was named Chief Conductor for Life. He has had a long association with music of Bruckner and recorded all of the symphonies many yeas ago with the Chicago Symphony. More than a decade ago, he recorded all nine in live performances with the Berlin Philharmonic in the same venue as this new set, Berlin's Philharmonic. There is enormous competition for performances of Bruckner's last sympony, on DVDs directed by Abbado, Celibidache, Giulini, Wand, Bernstein and Welser-Möst, and of course we have historic performances of uncommon interest including those by Jochum, Haitink, Furtwängler and Van Beinum to mention only the finest. If you enjoy Barenboim, here he is at his best, capured in excellent video and audio.
The legion of admirers of master guitarist Sharon Isbin will welcome this new Video Artists In ternational release that features a 56-mnute documentary about her life and concert activity. Born in Minnesota in 1958, Isbin has won just about every prize there is to win in he guitar world, and is a respected educator and teacher as well. In DVD program notes Isbin said she wanted the film to be "fun and inspirational," and indeed it is. This is a recent movie produced by Susan Dangel, with perfect video; the audio is heard in well-balanced stereo. There is a 22-minute segment of vared live performances with collaborators Mark O'Connor and guitarist Romero Lubombo. There is "extras" of about 8 minutes of music/talk. The documentary was widely shown on Public Television; if you missed it then, now is your opportunity to view this fine film about Sharon Isbin, a legend in her own time.
R.E.B. (April 2015)