Simon Rattle / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

The Asia Tour

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In late 2017, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic toured Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Japan, and their valedictory performances together have been gathered for this lavish 2018 set, packaged as a hardback book in the oblong format of previous releases on the orchestra's label, and containing five hybrid SACDs and one Blu-ray. (While the audio recording of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major, featuring pianist Seong-Jin Cho, was recorded in Berlin just prior to the tour, her Hong Kong performance appears on the Blu-ray along with performances from the concerts in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Wuhan, and Seoul.) Summing up Rattle's tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic, the program represents late-Romantic, post-Romantic, and modern composers who have been central to the orchestra's repertoire, and their playing is as committed and confident as has been demonstrated over their 15 years together. Following an energetic rendition of Richard Strauss' Don Juan, Yuja Wang's powerhouse performance of Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2 comes off as a bracing tour de force, showcasing her talents in an intensely focused recording. Also notable is the vivid reading of Stravinsky's Petrouchka, which is played on the fast side, and the afore-mentioned Ravel concerto, where Seong-Jin Cho deserves praise for her reflective passages as much as for her virtuosity. Also noteworthy is the orchestral performance of South Korean composer Unsuk Chin's Chorós Chordón, the sole nod here to contemporary music that Rattle has championed throughout his long career. The rest of the program may be considered bread-and-butter programming for these seasoned professionals, and Brahms' Symphony No. 4 in E minor and Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3 in A minor are reliable performances, if not especially revelatory or essential catalog items. Interspersed between the blockbusters are Wang's delicate encore of Rachmaninov's Vocalise, Dvorák's Slavonic Dance in E minor, Op. 72, No. 2, the Intermezzo from Puccini's Manon Lescaut, and Cho's solo performance of Debussy's Reflets dans l'eau.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
Petruschka
1 7:07
2 2:45
3 4:29
4 3:29
5 3:08
6 1:12
7 2:33
8 1:16
9 1:05
10 1:57
11 1:32
12 0:45
13 0:58
14 1:16
15 1:03
16 12:11
blue highlight denotes track pick