The DVD offers a bonus feature, admirable in its restraint and brevity,
detailing this story. Viewing it before the performance would be a good
strategy, as the camera work in the DVD spends so much time gliding along the
walls and sliding off the musicians in order to focus on some aspect of the
interior. If one does not appreciate the occasion, this might irritate many
viewers (and some may not find the occasion sufficient rationale either).
Camera technology has developed so that the constant movement and birds-eye
view angles can become a distraction.
The hall does have much to enjoy, visually. With its ornate friezes and
blocks of pastel blues and pinks, the impression is as if a very traditional
wedding cake had been inverted and we are inside it. The recorded sound,
remarkably clear and not at all rattled by loud crescendos, suggests that the
church will make a fine venue for more musical performances.
Fabio Luisi leads this one, looking quite aware of the profundity of the
occasion, even tense, yet managing a fervent, detailed job of leading the
Dresden Staatskapelle. The four soloists stand before the chorus and behind
the orchestra. Contralto Birgit Remmert lacks a distinctive tone but never
offers less than a competent performance. Tenor Christian Elsner also has
somewhat of an anonymous tenor sound, and when the tessitura climbs, some
strain becomes noticeable.
A gorgeous woman, Camilla Nylund also impresses with her ability to sustain
the challenging soprano line without letting the effort mar her rich tone.
Surely the most well-known of the four singers, bass René Pape shows why he
has made a world-wide reputation for himself. He sounds beautiful, relaxed
and yet urgent as necessary.
The long credits play over several minutes of ovations for the musicians from
the audience, who made hardly any sound during the performance, based on the
DVD's audio. So for those who want to watch the effort that goes into making
Beethoven's massive mass come to life, while enjoying the architecture of the
new Frauenkirche, this Euroarts set can be highly recommended.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy