Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall [Berlin, Germany]: Berliner Philharmoniker, (2016–). http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/ (accessed 30 December 2016). [Requires a Web browser and Internet connection or personal device and Internet/data connection. Pricing: varies by institutional or individual subscription.]

Introduction

The Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall is a Web-based database of streaming video performances, documentaries, and interviews by and related to the Berlin Philharmonic. This resource first became available in beta form in October 2015. Beta testing ended in January 2016, and the resource became available by subscription that spring.

The resource Web site does not clearly define its scope but it is self-evident that this is a product of the Berlin Philharmonic. On the How It Works page, it is noted that “each season around 40 concerts are broadcasted live and they can also be viewed at a later date in the concert archive. The archive already contains hundreds of recordings with all the great artists of classical music. There are also fascinating documentaries and bonus films.” (https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/ info, accessed 30 December 2016).

Pricing & Access

Digital Concert Hall does not publicly share its pricing index, instead requiring institutions to complete a questionnaire to receive a “personalized quote.” Information taken into account includes institution type (university, conservatory, school, other), total FTE enrollment, the number of students majoring or minoring in music, the number of students attending music classes, and the number of students using music resources. Similar information about institutional personnel is required, including the number of faculty, number of librarians, and number of support staff as well as how these groups use musical resources. More common information such as number of concurrent users and subscription duration (one, two, or three years) is also considered.

Content

Streaming video content begins in 1966 and continues to the present with live concert streams that are subsequently added to the archive. Content is batched into date ranges. The earliest content, 1966 to 1979, contains seventeen concerts and two documentaries all with Herbert von Karajan. The period 1980 to 1989 only contains three items, but all three may be considered significant performances in the orchestra’s history. Seventeen concerts, conducted variously by Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, and Sergiu Celibidache, are in the 1990 to 1999 batch. The time period of 2000 to 2008, contains thirty-three concerts conducted by Simon Rattle, Mark Elder, Neeme Järvi, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Mariss Jansons, Claudio Abbado, Plácido Domingo, Lorin Maazel, and Kent Nagano. From 2008 on performances are organized by season, with thirty-five performances in the 2008/9 season and later seasons containing forty-two to fifty items each. The current 2016/17 season contains twenty-three concerts with the promise to grow.

Some content is also available on CD or DVD. A comparison of Digital Concert Hall and the Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings Shop (https://www.berliner-philharmoniker-recordings.com, accessed 27 January 2017), linked in the page header, reveals a limited degree of overlap. [End Page 761] For example, both include video of Rattle’s Sibelius symphony cycle (BPHR 150071, OCLC accession number 925527825). Conversely, the interview with Harnoncourt available in the Recordings Shop as a bonus DVD to the conductor’s complete Schubert recordings (BPHR 150061, OCLC accession number 959284299) is sadly omitted from the Digital Concert Hall.

Historical recordings may be available via Alexander Street Press’s Music Online as streaming audio only. However, content originally released on the Berliner Philharmoniker label is not duplicated by other streaming resources.

All of the conducting giants, and many more, that worked with the orchestra since the mid-60s are represented. The database reveals a preference for traditional musical fare: Beethoven (61 performances), Brahms (54), Mahler (39), and Mozart (38). Although far fewer, works from the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries are represented as well, with compositions by Luciano Berio (12), Elliot Carter (3), George Crumb (1), Luigi Dallapiccola (1), Jonathan Dove (1), Osvaldo Golijov (1), Paul Hindemith (6), Kaija Saariaho (1), and TMru Takemitsu (1), among others.

The resource undoubtedly has commercial drivers behind it. A direct link at the top of the...