Valery Gergiev Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am


Valery Gergiev Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic
Summer Nights Concert at Schonbrunn

Vienna's annual outdoor concert offered a mix of commemorations for 2011. But what makes the recording of the concert stand out is the hybrid of Russian and Austrian music-making.

The June 2 concert starts with Les Prelude by Franz Liszt, who was born 200 years ago. Russian conductor Gergiev and the refined Viennese musicians do not sound settled and the erratic tempo suggests the piece is under-rehearsed. Only the mid-section woodwind solos and the harp live up to expectations.

Austrian Benjamin Schmid plays the one-movement Paganini concerto with refinement.

Then comes the solemn Scene with Cranes by Sibelius, an intensely dark masterpiece in which the strings express mourning for the Fukushima victims. After a series of sighing chords, the violin solo fades out masterfully.

The soothing sounds are quickly dispelled by Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Here, the full-blooded Russian timbre holds sway. The long final notes in the Great Gate of Kiev do not come off naturally for the Viennese players. The saxophone solo in Old Castle evokes a mystic mood, while the forte in Ox Cart is simply devastating.