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Blu-ray Review

Fellini, Jazz & Co.

EuroArts Blu-ray 2058404
  • Dmitri Shostakovich:
  • Jazz Suite #2
  • Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk Suite, Op. 29a: III. Allegretto
  • Nino Rota: La Strada Suite
  • Ottorino Respighi:
  • Fountains of Rome
  • Pines of Rome
  • Belkis, Queen of Sheba Suite: II. War Dance
  • Paul Lincke: Berliner Luft
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
Recorded live at the Waldbhüne, Berlin, 23 August 2011
EuroArts Blu-ray 2058404 105min LPCM Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio
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Also available on EuroArts DVD 2058408:
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The title of this disc might appear a bit quaint, but the "Fellini" refers to the Italian movie director Federico Fellini, who made the Academy Award winning 1954 film La Strada, for which Nino Rota provided the music score that would eventually spawn the suite that is played here. The "jazz" in the title refers to Shostakovich's Jazz Suite, of course, but as you may know it's not particularly jazzy, though it is, like everything else offered on the disc, very light and catchy. There is much humor in the eight numbers comprising the suite and Shostakovich's orchestration is brilliantly colorful. Had the composer written only music like this, he would likely have been more popular during his lifetime, at least in the Soviet Union, and been regarded perhaps as that country's answer to Johann Strauss, Jr. But then Shostakovich's nature gravitated toward an epic sort of angst that couldn't be satisfied by this kind of light fare. The encore piece, the Allegretto from the Lady Macbeth Suite, gets a vigorous, rollicking performance.

The Rota score is quite attractive too, and features the Traveling Down a Lonely Road theme, a somewhat wistful and quite lovely melody that can linger in the mind's ear. In fact the score is chock full of catchy music and this suite might well be the most consistently engaging work on the disc.

The two big Respighi scores have long been concert favorites and both get fine performances here. The Pines of Rome succeeds especially well when the ending comes on with crushing power, as it does here. That said, the performance struck me as a bit tentative at the outset, but the last half of The Pines of the Villa Borghese was quite spirited, and the Pines that followed were convincingly played. The Fountains of Rome and the War Dance encore number also get fine performances.

The concert closes with a favorite among German audiences, Paul Lincke's Berliner Luft, and here Chailly draws out a splendid performance from the orchestra. This concert, as noted in the heading, was recorded live from the Waldbhüne, an open-air amphitheater used as a summer home for the Berlin Philharmonic. The sound on the disc is excellent throughout, the camera work fine, and the clarity of the picture is exceedingly sharp.

Copyright © 2012 by Robert Cummings.

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