"This kind of "gala" concert is not normally my taste but my word, what a line-up. I actually have the DVD of the concert and it is superb in every respect. The selection from Carmen is outstanding with Bryn Terfel particularly so. Gil Shaham is a superb if not entirely perfect soloist in the Carmen Fantasy. There are several moments of untrue intonation in this very diffcult showpiece but the violinist's panache and charm are simply irresistable.The purely orchestral items are wonderfully done with Maestro Abbado on his best form as is the BPO. However for me, the highlight is the Rhapsody by Rachmaninov. I'm not a huge fan of up close hand shots of piano players in concert, but this occasion is mesmerising. Pletnev is simply incredible. I have never heard and seen such articulacy and virtuosity before. It is a superb performance from all parties and all at the service of the composer and the work. The last section after the famous 18th variation has got to be seen to be believed. The colour and imagination in the playing is really amazing with Pletnev virtually standing up to negotiate the double glissando to the final bars of the piece.This is close to perfection in a very difficult and musically treacherous work. The recording is also very well balanced and the camara work is also expertly done. Enjoy the audio CD if you want to but for the full experience go for the DVD."
Three cheers for Mikhail Pletnev!
Norman Duffy | 07/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anybody who loves Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody MUST listen to Mikhail Pletnev play it! He has proved that he is not only an outstanding conductor but also an exceptional, intricate pianist. By far, this is my favourite recording of Paganini Rhapsody."
Never has a CD so instantly became my favorite!
kevin millet | Salt Lake City, Utah, USA | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard Gil Shaham's rendition of Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy and knew I had to have the CD. Much to my delight, after listening to the CD only once, I can honestly say that if I'd heard any piece from the Berlin Gala I would have had the same impulse. The collection possesses magnificience and power! The energy is phenomenal. Definitely not a CD you want to play if you want to doze off. All of the pieces are very accessible to the classical neophyte, giving it instant appeal. Do yourself a favor and have this one overnighted!"
PBS respectability and a Carmen from Iceland
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Cd is basically a ufnd-raising moment from PBS--ice enough, glossy, nothing really wrong. But the spirit of Carmen the gypsy is nowhere in sight, and between Abbado's careful conducting and von Otter's very chilly Scandanavian singing, I found little to enjoy."