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Recordings

A Night of Rhythm and Dance
03 Aug 2006

A Night of Rhythm and Dance

The Waldbühne in Berlin is a large copy of ancient Greek theatres. Originally it was the ‘Reichssportfeld’, built for the Olympic Games of 1936.

A Night of Rhythm and Dance

Mari & Momo Kodama, pianos, Eitetsu Hayashi, wadaiko, Susan Graham, mezzo soprano, Berliner Philharmoniker, Kent Nagano (cond.)

EuroArts 2050526 [DVD]

€ 22,99  Click to buy

Nowadays it is a place for all kinds of concerts (rock/pop and even real music) where up to 22.000 people can listen and watch. Some events are televised and broadcast all over Europe. It was during a Domingo-conducted concert of zarzuela that I first discovered the beautiful voice of Ana María Martínez. Usually, some of the more popular classic concerts are an eclectic mix (like this DVD under review) with a good singer and a fine instrumentalist, except when the Love Couple (courtesy of Manuela Hoelterhoff) appears or when Villazón, Netrebko and Domingo (singing) combine their talents, as was the case this year resulting in a stampede for tickets.

For vocal buffs, the attraction of this DVD are the six Gershwin songs performed by Susan Graham, who was less well-known at the time. The mezzo clearly gave some thought to her interpretations and she didn't fall into the pit where lay the ashes of some recordings by Price, Te Kanawa and Fleming. She does some scooping here and there but never exaggerates. She knows how to swing along with the songs without resorting to crooning. In short she succeeds well in combining the best of two worlds. She uses her operatic voice without trying to turn ‘I got rhythm’ into ‘O don fatale’ but she never resorts to Lena Horne tricks and clearly uses volume and a splendid top to give meat to the songs. I wish the rest of the programme was on Graham’s level; but I for one am not much impressed by 24 minutes of Japanese drumming. The Orchestra Suite from the movie ‘Farewell My Concubine’ with its mix of Chinese instruments and melodic invention was far more to my taste. Nagano conducts lively interpretations of Ravel’s La Valse and Daphnis et Chloé, though the orchestra probably can play these pieces without a conductor. That’s what they do in fact at the end of the programme where the conductor leaves the roster and the Berliner end the concert with the Berlin National Hymn, better known as the popular Berliner Luft by operetta composer Paul Licke.

Jan Neckers

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