MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor Resurrection
Chen Reiss, sopran. Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano. Orfeo Catala. Munich Philhrmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 91 min.

PUCCINI: Turandot
Irene Theorin (Turandot). Raul Gimenez (Em[eror). Andrea Mastroni (Timur). Yolanda Auyanet (Liu). Gregory Kunde (alaf). Joan Martin-Royo (Ping). Vincenc Esteve (Pang). Juan Antonio Sanabria (Pong). Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra / Nicola Luisotti, cond.

C MAJO DVD TT: 92 min. (stereo only)

Dynamic conductor Gustavo Dudamel is known for his impressive performances of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand. His magnificent 2012 performance that featured two orchestras: The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, and a huge choruses, more performers than Mahler specified. Itt is available on DVD, essential in any Mahler collection (REVIEW). Now we have his performance of the great Resurrection,recorded live June 27, 019 in Spain's Palau de la Mísica Catalana in Barcelona. This is a magnificent venue, large with beautiful stained glass windows. Dudamel conducts this huge score from memory, the Munch Philharmonic is in top form, the two soloists are excellent and the large chorus impresses. This is an outstanding performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2. The video director, Corentin Leconte, obviously knows the score as well as the conductor; there are countless brief closeups of individual solos. This is an impressive addition to the video catalog, but it has strong competition particularly from Claudio Abbado / Lucerne Festival Orchestra (REVIEW), Riccardo Chailly / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (REVIEW), and Bernard Haitink / Concertgebouw (REVIEW).

Puccini's last opera, Turandot, always has been a favorite with audiences and performers. It is available on countless audio recordings many of which have been mentioned on this site, particularly the brilliant Met 1961 production with Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli conducted by Stokowski. And there are many fine videos mentioned on this site. This new version is from the 2019 Madrid Teatro Real season, staged, directed and with lighting by Robert Wilson. It is not an elaborate production. The set is simple with a raised platform in the rear and a large blank screen at the back, usually a light blue. Most of the characters, except principal singers, are seen in silhouette. Costumes are blue except for the principals with Turandot dressed in red. Singing is unexceptional. Soprano Irene Theorin was miscast in the miserable 2005 Bayreuth production of Tristan an Isolde (REVIEW), nor did she impress as Elektra (REVIEW). She surely does not have the vocal security or power for Turandot. Yolanda Auyanet is an excellent Liu, Gregory Kunde a satisfactory if not outstanding Calaf. Audio and video are fine. Skip this one for sure.

Beethoven's mighty Symphony No. 9 is the subject of this documentary written and directed by Christian Berger. A number of snippets from rehearsals and perrformances of the Ninth are included, as well as a feature on Chinese composer Tan Dun who was commissioned to write a piece to be performed before the Beethoven symphony. Excerpts from a rehearsal of the work with conductor Teodor Currentzis and the MusicAeterna are featured. Video is by Sven Jakob-Engelmann. This documentary was winner of the German Camera Award of Deutscher Kamerapreis 2020. I found little of lasting interest in this video. There are countless very brief video clips that seem to have no relevance to the symphony. . I found the most interesting part was when they showed the original manuscript of Symphony No 9. And it does seem odd that a documentary about Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 does not include a complete high-quality performance.

R.E.B. (June 2020)