Claudio Abbado conducts music from “Carmen” at the 1997 New Year’s Eve Concert
31 Dec 1997
New Year’s Eve Concert
Anne Sofie von Otter, Roberto Alagna, Bryn Terfel, Mikhail Pletnev, Gil Shaham
Carmen: Prélude · Havanaise · Couplets · Chanson · Air de la fleur · Chœur et scène (28 min.)
Anne Sofie von Otter Mezzo-Soprano, Véronique Gens Soprano, Stella Doufexis Mezzo-Soprano, Roberto Alagna Tenor, Bryn Terfel Baritone, Südtiroler Kinderchor, Gretel Brugger Chorus Master, Orfeón Donostiarra, José Antonio Sainz Alfaro Chorus Master
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra, op. 43 (23 min.)
Mikhail Pletnev Piano
Pablo de Sarasate
Carmen Fantasy, op. 25 (11 min.)
Gil Shaham Violin
Rapsodie espagnole (16 min.)
Manuel de Falla
El amor brujo (Love, the Magician), ballet music: Danza del fuego (Ritual Fire Dance) (4 min.)
Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor (3 min.)
Carmen is not only the eponymous heroine of what is probably the most popular opera in the world, she is also a myth: the epitome of beauty, seduction and the freedom from all social fetters. In their New Year’s Eve Gala from 1997, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado take on this myth with a top-class ensemble of singers and instrumental soloists.
The concert opens of course with excerpts from Bizet’s opera. The Swedish singer Anne Sofie von Otter in the title role never comes across as a cool Scandinavian, but enchants the whole hall with her sometimes alluring, sometimes scornful mezzo-soprano. Bryn Terfel, the vigorous Welsh baritone is a self-confident Escamillo, while the tenor Roberto Alagna embodies the hopelessly in love Don José with gently melodiousness.
Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations – played crisply and with fullness of tone by Mikhail Plentnev – convey a very similar tonal and expressive world to Bizet’s opera. This musical world is then seen again from a violinist’s perspective with Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. The soloist is Gil Shaham, mastering the breath-taking technical difficulties as a matter of course. Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole shows that the Spanish spirit is not only bathed in sunlight, but also has its dark side, before the Berliner Philharmoniker once again demonstrate their brilliance in two short final pieces.
© 1997 EuroArts Music International