I recently watched a concert in honor of the 2008 Nobel Prize
winners, issued by the EuroArts label. Appropriately, this
“Nobel Prize Concert” featured the Royal Stockholm
Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
and taped at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The music
performed was “Symphony No. 7” by Antonín Dvořák
(1841-1904) and the “Mass in C Minor,” by Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The performance of the
“Mass” featured Maestro Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir
and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir.
The concert opened with the Dvořák “Symphony No. 7,”
which is one of the composer’s strongest orchestral works.
Maestro Gardiner led a fine, if not spectacular, reading of
this inspired work, composed during 1884 and 1885.
This was my first exposure to a performance by this
orchestra. Although they may not have been of the
highest caliber, they acquitted themselves well here.
At a running time of approximately 52 minutes, the
Mozart “Mass in C Minor” is a part or “torso” of the
work and therefore incomplete, as Maestro
Gardiner noted when interviewed on this DVD.
Nevertheless, much of it is inspiring, especially the
solo passages for the soprano and alto. I found
it interesting that Maestro Gardiner opted to
separate the three trombones from each other,
with a lot of space between them. This might have been
due to the individual contrapuntal passages for each
trombonist, either with the choir or the remainder
of the orchestra.
The female soloists, soprano Mia Perrsson and alto
Ann Hallenberg, performed the lion’s share of the solo and
duet singing. Both were quite good, and I really enjoyed
the passages they sang together. By contrast, tenor
Helge Rönning and bass Peter Mattei had relatively little
to do. I applauded Maestro Gardiner’s decision to unite
the Monteverdi Choir with the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir.
Their combined great sound was an example of
“international music democracy” in action.
The two bonus features on the disc were the
aforementioned 12-minute interview with Maestro Gardiner,
and a 10-minute interview segment with the Nobel
laureates (one of whom was economist Paul Krugman!),
discussing their relationship with music. Both interview
segments were conducted by journalist Thomas von Heijne.
While I’ve heard better recorded sound from other discs
released under the EuroArts label, this two-hour DVD
is still well worth your time.