OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffman
John Osborn (Hoffman). Nina Minasyan (Olympia). Ermonela Jaho (Antonia). Christine Rice (Gioletta).Irene Roberts (La Muse). Eva Kroon (La Voix de la Tombe). Erwin Schrott (Lindorf / Coppélois / Miracle / Dapertutto). Rodolphe Briand (Spalanzaani). Paul Gay (Luther). Chorus of Dutch National Opera. Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Carlo Rizzi, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 165 min.

WAGNER: Prelude to Die Meistersinger. RAVEL: La valse. LUTOSLAWSKI: Sumphony No. 4. STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite. BJARMASON: From Space I Saw Earth.
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Zubin Mehta, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 85 min + 52 min documentary

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 Pastorale. Symphony No. 7 in A, Op 92
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Herbert Bloomstedt, cond.

There are many videos of Offenbach's tragic opera about the exploits of E.T.A. Hoffmann. This new version from the Dutch National Opera focuses on the more sinister aspects of the score The modern set and costumes were by Rainer Sellmaier and the director was Tobias Kratzer. The stage is divided into four sections and characters often move from one to another. The cast is first-class, and we have the luxury f Erwin Schrott singing the four villains. Carlo Rizzi leads this vibrant performance, and video director Misjel Vermeiren always has the camera in an appropriate place. Excellent audio. If you are looking for a fine modern production of Offenbach's masterpiece, here it is.

The Centennial Concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic was was filmed in Walt Disney Concert Hall in October 2019. It was a festive occasion, featuring the orchestra's three most recent music directors. Zubin Mehta conducts the Wagner and Ravel, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Lutoslawski i(which was commissioned by the Orchestra), and Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Stravinsky. All three conductors lead the final work, another LAPO commission, Daniel Bjarnason's From Space I Saw the Earth. This Icelandic composer (b. 1979) had already composed two works inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing and space race. In this short work, he attempts to describe the beauty of earth when seen from outer space, and he does so in a generally somber mood, densely orchestrated with many unusual subtle orchestral effects. The orchestra is divided into three sections each with its own conductor. It is an engrossing work although it doesn't really seem that three conductors are necessary. . Playing time is 10:19 instead of 3:19 as listed in the program. This is an important concert and it is a pleasure to see this superb orchestra performing in the visually stunning Disney Concert Hall. Excellent video and audio.

American-Swedish conductor Herbert Bloomstedt (b. 1927) is now a legendary figure in the music world. During his long career he has been music director of many Swedish orchestras as well as the Dresden Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the North German Radio Orchestra. Bloomstedt has made numerous recordings many of which won awards. On this fine new disk he returns to Beethoven again; he already has made multiple recordings of these symphonies. These vibrant performances were recorded in Leipzig's Gewandhaus May 19, 2016 (No. 6) and May 7, 2015 (No. 7). Music performances of the highest order here, beautifully filmed and recorded with excellent multi-channel audio.

R.E.B. (May 2020)