World Orchestra For Peace - Valery Gergiev At The Abu Dhabi Festival

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TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5. ROSSINI William Tell: Overture. PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1, “Classical” Valery Gergiev, cond; World O for Peace C MAJOR 707008 (DVD: 104:00) Live: Abu Dhabi 1/4/2011


The World Orchestra for Peace was founded by Sir Georg Solti in 1995, incorporating players from around the globe. Solti’s successor as its conductor is Valery Gergiev, who leads the present concert at the Abu Dhabi Festival, the orchestra’s first appearance in the Arab world. The DVD contains a pleasant bonus feature about the history of the orchestra and its workings. One thing that this documentary makes clear is the affection between Gergiev and his players. With what essentially is a pick-up orchestra, Gergiev hones an ensemble of beauty and refinement, with a powerful sonority. I concur with the audience in Abu Dhabi; this concert is a resounding success.

The William Tell Overture receives beautiful playing from the solo cello, flute, and English horn, plus an incisive response by the trombone choir. The interpretation is unhackneyed—one hears Gergiev’s skill as an opera conductor in setting an atmosphere. His hands flutter to create tension. The Lone Ranger music possesses a fine edge and is very exciting; I couldn’t help but conduct along with it. Gergiev takes the first three movements of the “Classical” Symphony at a leisurely pace. He begins the first movement by making circles with his right hand, suggesting the long line of the music. Gergiev’s gestures remind me of a remark Leonard Bernstein made to Glenn Dicterow: “I’m not a time beater. I’m an inspirer.” The solo bassoon in this movement is suitably puckish. The second movement here reveals the strongest influence of Haydn, with exquisite playing. The Gavotte in Gergiev’s hands is like a slow, heavy-footed Russian dance. Gergiev’s tempo for the finale is quick but not breathless. In the witty exchanges between orchestral choirs, the 20th century greets the 18th.

In Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, Gergiev molds the rich sound of the orchestra with the curve of his arms. I heard Gergiev say in an interview with Gilbert Kaplan that Furtwängler is one of his idols, which helps explain the never-capricious freedom of tempo in this performance. The opening clarinet solo is dark and mellifluous. Inexorable fate dominates Gergiev’s conception of the first movement. Nothing is sugary here. Its coda has an unusually slow, slightly menacing tempo. The horn solo that opens the second movement is dusky and dreamlike. In the darkness and heaviness of this movement, the conductor provides a foretaste of Shostakovich’s slow movements. Gergiev here gets the maximum expressiveness out of his body, perhaps wishing he could do even more. He doesn’t signal an end to the slow movement, just letting it fade away. The waltz offers a nervous respite from the previous movement. The finale is not march-like or triumphal. Gergiev paints it on a huge canvas, even down to beautiful tuba playing. The final peroration seems Byronic in its suggestion of despairing heroism. In sum, this is an individual and striking Tchaikovsky Fifth, gorgeously played.

In the encore, Johann Strauss Jr.’s Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, the orchestra creates a completely different atmosphere, echt Viennese. The violin playing is especially lithe and sparkling. The sound engineering in stereo is very good, with just a hint of congestion in climaxes. I was unable to try out the surround-sound option. The director does a fine job, alternating not overbearing views of Gergiev with sensitively judged close-ups of the orchestra’s players. I enjoyed just listening to the DVD’s sound while lying down as much as I did viewing its picture. If you are looking for CDs of the primary works, I would recommend Sir Colin Davis for the Rossini, Masur and the London Philharmonic or Rostropovich in the Prokofiev, and in the Tchaikovsky Antal Doráti and the London Symphony or Leonard Bernstein on Deutsche Grammophon. Gergiev really presents a seminar on the conductor’s art on this DVD. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see how a major artist achieves his results.

FANFARE: Dave Saemann


Gioacchino Rossini: Guillaume Tell: Overture
Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, “Classical”
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64
Johann Strauss II: Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, Op. 214

World Orchestra for Peace
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Recorded live from the Abu Dhabi Festival, 2011.

- Solti’s Vision: The World Orchestra for Peace – The First 15 Years 1995–2010.

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German
Running time: 83 mins (concert) + 21 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 707008

  • UPC: 814337010706

  • Label: C Major

  • Composer: Gioachino Rossini, Johann Strauss Jr., Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev

  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: World Orchestra for Peace