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Live at the Berlin Philharmonie Live at The Berlin Philharmonie


Vanessa Mae made a tour of Germany recorded a video with the Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra & conducted by Bruno Membrey‘Live at the Berlin Philharmonie’ , Germany.
Performing :

  1. J.S.Bach - Toccata & Fugue in D minor
  2. L.V.Beethoven - Romance no.2 in F for violin & orchestra Op.50>
  3. Max Bruch - Scottish Fantasy for violin & orchestra Op.46 (5 mov)
  4. Bizet - Carmen Suite (5 mov)
  5. Vanessa Mae/Wherry - Red Hot ( Symphonic )

What she offers is like a dance on four strings and how she presents it is a perfect production. She played Bach’s Toccata & Fugue as well as Beethoven’s Romance in F in a see-through blue dress and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy in a rich red colour.
Performing Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy in a pale yellow tulle dress , she looked like a china doll turning around in a musical box. The breaks for changing clothes were used for imparting to the audience some valuable information regarding the musical works..
P & C 1996 EMI Records Ltd.

A Review by Vpa

This is a 64-minute videotape of a symphonic concert performed in September 1996. Although it was a symphonic concert, performed with together with an orchestra and a program of mostly classical music such as Beethoven, this is no ordinary classical music concert. You can easily see why her live performances are very popular and why they became controversial in traditional classical music circles.
The music and program:
  1. The concert opened with "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor". This is the symphonic version of the techno-acoustic fusion version of Bach’s original version. (Bach’s music was for organ and, unless some scholars out there can correct me, did not have the lyrics "Fasten your seat belt!"). The Techno-acoustic fusion version was on THE VIOLIN PLAYER, and other, even more disco-like, versions are on THE ALTERNATIVE and the STORM single CD, but this symphonic version is not recorded elsewhere.
  2. This was followed by Beethoven’s "Romance in F for Violin and Orchestra", introduced to the audience as "sweet and simple". This piece is also on CLASSICAL ALBUM 1, though not the same performance.
  3. Excerpts from various movements of Max Bruch’s "Scottish Fantasy" are next, after a costume change. This music is on CLASSICAL ALBUM 1 as well, although performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and with better recording quality on the album. She gets considerable applause between the movements as well as at the end. This is Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy" only; her own version "I'm a-doun for Lack o'Johnnie" is not performed.
  4. "Violin Fantasy on Carmen" is the next piece, violin music by Sarasate based on Bizet’s famous opera about a fiery, sensuous gypsy. Vanessa-Mae has added some additional parts of her own, which are based on Bizet's opera but not in Sarasate's original version of Fantasy on Carmen; the cover gives the composition credits as Sarasate/Vanessa-Mae/orchestration by Cameron. A solo classical guitarist opens this section of the concert, and then Vanessa-Mae makes her entrance in a red sequined miniskirt. This identifies her with the Carmen character, who is traditionally dressed in red, although this is a music performance not in any sense an opera and the miniskirt is hardly a period costume. An interesting moment is seeing the faces of the orchestra members when she enters the stage and they see what she is wearing. Then she and the orchestra perform various music based on the opera; of course only a few excerpts since the full opera is about three hours long. Vanessa-Mae had also recorded "Fantasy on Carmen" long before, on her debut album VIOLIN at the age of 12. That one was Sarasate's original version. The music is discussed in much more detail in that section.
  5. After talking to the audience, Vanessa-Mae gets out her electric violin and closes with a symphonic version of "Red Hot". In this arrangement of the song that originally appeared on THE VIOLIN PLAYER, the orchestra takes the place of the electric guitar and electronics. Amazingly, in just a few minutes, with a few gestures, facial expressions, and body language as well as her music, she is able to transform the proceedings from a fairly serious, quiet, classical music performance (albeit one with the soloist dressed in an outrageous miniskirt) to a high-energy rock-concert-like atmosphere. All of the audience is on their feet at the end.

Costumes and Performance Style
Madonna has been doing mid-set costume changes for years, but I’ve never heard of it being done before by a classical performer. For "Toccata and Fugue" and "Beethoven’s Romance in F", Vanessa-Mae wore a black see-through dress. Then for "Scottish Fantasy" she changed to a yellow dress with bustles that is reminiscent of 19th century Europe and appropriate for the subject matter, but with the front raised to show her boots. "Fantasy on Carmen" and "Red Hot" were performed in a red miniskirt.
Vanessa-Mae’s playing was superb, but even apart from the clothes one can easily tell that she is a pop star performing classical music rather than a conventional classical musician. Obviously, this is somebody who has studied the performances of Michael Jackson and Madonna as well as classical music. For example, her unusual stance with her feet planted wide apart gets attention. Her charisma and connection to the audience is very good.
I highly recommend this video to anybody who is interested enough to have read this far. The music is very good, and also you can see a fascinating performance that cannot be captured on an audio CD. Though her concerts in the future might not be much like this one, this videotape has captured a very fine performance from this phase of Vanessa-Mae’s career.


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