Yuja Wang / Daniel Behle / Elsa Dreisig / Ryan Speedo Green / Ekaterina Gubanova / Franz Welser-Möst / Wiener Philharmoniker

The Peace Concert Versailles

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Commemorative albums, whether festive or serious, rarely go beyond ritual observances, but this concert, held at the Versailles opera house on the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice, is different. It's a unique sequence of works that approaches the phenomenon of war from different perspectives, falling into a roughly chronological sequence and making a strong emotional impact. One might question some of the interpretive choices made by conductor Franz Welser-Möst, leading the Wiener Philharmoniker. Although the Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620, is supposed to be there to exemplify humanist values, Welser-Möst takes it at an oddly blistering clip, but then the more specific program begins. Debussy's set of Sirènes, in line with the ominous prewar mood of this work, are jittery indeed, and this inaugurates the long emotional arc of the program as it leads through Holst and Wagner. Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand shows the impact of war from a different direction: its dedicatee, Paul Wittgenstein, had an arm amputated during the war. Pianist Yuja Wang delivers both a commanding performance and a lot of star power here, but it might have added to the album's effect had a one-armed pianist been chosen: several remain active. However, Welser-Möst just gets better and better from here on out. Vaughan Williams' little choral "Dirge for Two Veterans" brings a somber mood, and the Agnus Dei from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Op. 123, is extraordinarily powerful. Welser-Möst seems to solve the nagging conundrum of the work's inconclusive ending, echoed by Ives' The Unanswered Question. That's not a work that referred to war at all when it was written, and it's much less often heard in Europe than in the U.S., but it makes an impressive finale here. A very fine recording of its kind.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Magic Flute K 620
1 06:18 Amazon
Sirènes No. 3 from Trois Nocturnes L. 91
2 03:26 Amazon
3 01:06 Amazon
4 01:54 Amazon
5 00:34 Amazon
6 02:40 Amazon
The Planets (Die Planeten, Op. 32
7 07:27 Amazon
Götterdämmerung WWV 86D
8 08:16 Amazon
Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major M. 82
9 08:14 Amazon
10 10:09 Amazon
Dona nobis pacem
11 08:42 Amazon
Missa solemnis Op. 123
12 05:37 Amazon
13 02:10 Amazon
14 02:59 Amazon
15 03:44 Amazon
16 05:01 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick