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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Ballet > Theater > Drama > Documentary > Multi-Chanel Music > Anderszewski – Voyageur intranquille / Yefim Bronfman & Simon Rattle / Callas assoluta / Fairy Queen/Christie / Trondheim Solistene (Blu-ray/SA-CD) / As You Like It/Globe / Swan Lake/Zurich Ballet

Piotr Anderszewski – Voyageur intranquille (Ideale audience Blu-ray) + Stravinsky/Rachmaninov/Tchaikovsky – Yefim Bronfman & Simon Rattle (EuroArts Blu-ray) + Callas assoluta (ArtHaus Blu-ray)+ Fairy Queen/Purcell/Christie (Opus Arte) + Trondheim Solistene – Grieg/Amper/Larsen (2L Blu-ray/SACD/SA-CD) + As You Like It (Globe/Opus Arte Blu-ray + DVD) + Tchaikovsky/Swan Lake/Zurich Ballet (BelAir Classiques Blu-ray + DVD/Naxos)


Picture: C+/B-/B-/B-/X/B- & C+/B- & C     Sound: B-/B-/B-/B-/B/B-/B & B-     Extras: C (Queen: C+)     Concerts/Documentaries: B- (Callas: B)



Our coverage of high fidelity Naxos-distributed classical titles continues with anew group of varied releases that range from concerts, to ballets to operas and this time, a few documentaries.


Piotr Anderszewski – Voyageur intranquille is possibly the first release we have covered from the Idéale audience label and delves into the life of the man who is (as we are shown) one of the most talented, yet unconventional pianists in the world.  The 83 minutes of Unquiet Voyager is directed by Brund Monsaingeon and for most will be an interesting introduction to a talent who is already considered one of the best in the world and may break through beyond his genre yet.  This portrait will not hurt.


We usually do not get concerts that show the musicians or conductor directly in their duration throughout, but pianist Yefim Bronfman and Conductor Simon Battle playing major works by Stravinsky (La sacre du temps), Rachmaninov (Piano Concerto No. 3) and Tchaikovsky (Nutcracker) is just that and it is not bad, considering what few shots are available, but he is good and if you like the music or his version thereof, you’ll like this release.  Running 104 minutes, it takes place at the Berlin Philharmoniker and is actually an interesting change of pace for Blu-ray.


The best of this wave of releases is Philippe Kohly’s Callas assoluta (2007/aka Callas – A Salute) tells us about and even shows us footage (some of it never seen before) of the legend whose voice became legendary and is sited for reviving the entire genre are art form of Opera in modern times.  As I watched the 97 rich minutes, I wondered why she has not had a revival or even a biopic made of her, even if it has to be under the auspices of “the original diva” just to get a wider audience.  This is a solid work that is a must-see for anyone serious about Opera or the Arts in general.


Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is offered here in a Glyndebourne series production (Opus Arte has issued some formidable works from them on Blu-ray already) with William Christie as conductor and a comic fantasy with some Opera as an extrapolation of the Shakespeare classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the results are a little uneven, but interesting and worth seeing, though having the original book as reference might help in this case.


An all-audio offering is the latest Blu-ray/Super Audio CD offering from the 2L label and Trondheim Solistene – Grieg/Amper/Larsen offers several multi-channel versions of the classics recorded in the DXD 24/352 format that I have not been a fan of.  The sound always sounds a little harsh, though in this and another recent case, they have made some slight adjustments to prevent that, but it is only helping so much.  Still, recording in SA-CD’s native Direct Stream Digital format would yield the best results, but those who can try out their own system will and that is what we get here.  The performances are not bad, but I was a little disappointed by the playback in both formats and all codecs.  More on this below.


In peaking of The Bard, The Shakespeare’s Globe series continues from OpusArte and this time, the classic is As You Like It.  As noted before, this takes place at a theater that is exactly like the kind the author originally constructed to present his endless series of classics.  This has been issued in separate Blu-ray and DVD editions.  I liked it, but did not love it, yet it is much of how it would have been in its original performances and that has an element of authenticity to it that makes it work in ways you would not suspect, especially in its comedy.


Also issued in both separate Blu-ray and DVD releases is the latest version

of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, this time by The Zurich Ballet and issued by the BelAir Classiques label.  Polina Semionova and Stanislav Jermakov star in this production choreographed by Heinz Spoerli and led by conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev.  This is a version for those who want a take that is a little more serious and maybe colder, which is not a bad thing considering how many times this most popular of ballets has been done and done and done.  This is not the first time we’ve covered it and it will not be the last.  Fans should try it out.


All six Blu-rays with video offer 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition images and though color can be good, all in this case have more motion blur than I would have liked and Voyageur especially has location video issues and other flaws from the way it was shot and edited, so expect additional blur, some staircasing and other detail issues.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the two DVDs are a step below their counterparts, but Like is not as bad as Lake on DVD, which has a serious Video Black issue, so go for the Blu-ray especially in that case.


Like, Lake and Trondheim (192/24) all offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes, while Queen is listed as 5.1 but is really 5.0.  Bronfman and Voyageur offer PCM 5.1 mixes and all nine of the discs covered here have PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes (Trondheim does this at 192/24 as well, Callas has no multi-channel option) but all the soundstages have their issues where surround is concerned.  The mixes either are not as filled out as they should be (which is why none are 7.1, save the all-audio Trondheim at 96/24) and do not come as alive as I had hoped for save Swan Lake, which is nicely recorded.  Needless to say they are not weak and they all fare better than their PCM 2.0 versions, but none are demo quality throughout either.  The 7.1 on Trondheim is not better than its 5.1, but is not bad and along with the 5.1 and 2.0 DSD on the SA-CD, the sound is still a tad harsh in all cases.  We have heard and covered better Classical SA-CDs, but diehard fans of the composers might still want to hear these for themselves.  The DVD of Like has DTS 5.1 and a distant sound because of the position of the microphones versus the performers in The Globe, so the DTS is even in both editions.  Lake sounds good in its Dolby Digital 5.1 version, but the DTS-MA on the Blu-ray is smoother and warmer.


Extras include booklets in all nine releases, some have trailers for other Blu-ray releases, but only Queen has more real extras in interviews with Christie and Stage Director Jonathan Kent.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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