Tuesday, 28 September 2010

CD Review (The Straits Times, September 2010)

Vienna Philharmonic / FRANZ WELSER-MÖST
Deutsche Grammophon 476 3793

This year’s Vienna Summer Night Concert under the stars had a decidedly celestial twist. The theme of Moon/Planet/Stars necessitated inclusion of music from John Williams’ film score for Star Wars. The iconic Main Title, Princess Leia’s Theme and Imperial March posed little problem for the orchestra better known for the classics and Johann Strauss. They performed those numbers as if they were Wagner, the March being the perfect counterpart to Holst’s Mars, The Bringer Of War from The Planets. Also in the heavenly realm were Josef Strauss’s (the younger brother of Johann the Younger) Music Of The Spheres, Joseph Lanner’s Evening Stars and Otto Nicolai’s Moonrise from The Merry Wives Of Windsor, all receiving plum readings.

A somewhat more earthbound choice was Franz Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, performed with gusto and brilliance by Yefim Bronfman, who gamely included an encore in Liszt’s flashy Paganini Étude No.2. Strauss’ nostalgic Winer Blut (Vienna Blood) completed the evening’s fare. The DVD adds a few more encores, vistas of Vienna by night, shots from the Hubble telescope, and plenty of superfluous crowd scenes. Take your pick.

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