Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music: Documentary and Concert

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Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music: Documentary and Concert. DVD. [Leipzig]: EuroArts Music International, 2010, 2007. 2058228. $79.99.

Part of what can make pieces of classical music come alive for audiences that are more accustomed to the visual medium rather than the purely aural is a video presentation that brings both the work and the composer to life for the listener. This set of five DVDs are packaged together under the title Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music and each one has as its main goal this noble cause. The five titles included are: Discovering Robert Schumann: Documentary & Concert (Concerto for piano and orchestra: Martha Argerich, piano; Gewand haus - orchester Leipzig; Riccardo Chailly, conductor, recorded live June 1-2, 2006); Discovering Felix Mendelssohn: Documentary & Concert (Violin concerto in E minor: Frank Michael Erben, violin; Gewandhaus - orchester Leipzig; Kurt Masur, conductor, recorded live May 4, 1997); Discovering W.A. Mozart: Documentary & Concert (Symphony no. 41, "Jupiter:" Kammerorchester C.P.E. Bach; Hartmut Haenchen, conductor, recorded live November 13, 2005); Discovering Richard Strauss: Documentary & Concert (Eine Alpensinfonie: Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden; Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor, recorded live September 22, 1998); and Discovering Johannes Brahms: Documentary & Concert (Violin concerto in D major: Gil Shaham, violin; Berliner Philharmoniker; Claudio Abbado, conductor, recorded live May 1, 2002). The sense of being right there, in the midst of the live audience is made quite vivid in each case, so the participant watching these videos experiences not only some of the most magnificent works that classical music has to offer, they also get the experience of having some of the world's best orchestras, conductors, and soloists momentarily moving into the comfort of their own living room.

Each documentary follows the same premise: images that connect the work to a historical time period are shown as a narrator speaks about how and why the work is important both in the composer's overall output, and also in the way it fits into the era in which it was composed. The narration is in English. Following is an interview with an expert, who in each case speaks German and this discussion is handily subtitled. Those subtitles can be displayed in English, French, or Spanish, or the English portions of each DVD can be translated into German so the whole DVD is presented in German. Each expert is a specialist who has deep knowledge about the composer and the particular piece under discussion, for example, the musicologist who spoke about the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is from the Mendelssohn Insti - tute. …