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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Ballet > Multi-Chanel Music > Europakonzert 2010/Weilerstein/Barenboim (EuroArts) + John Corgliano – Circus Maximus (Blu Audio) + Blu-ray Experience II (Opus Arte) + Mahler Sym. No. 1/Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3/Abbado (EuroArt

Europakonzert 2010/Weilerstein/Barenboim (EuroArts) + John Corgliano – Circus Maximus (Blu Audio) + Blu-ray Experience II (Opus Arte) + Mahler Sym. No. 1/Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3/Abbado (EuroArts) + Nutcracker/Tchaikovsky/Royal Ballet (Opus Arte/Naxos Blu-rays) + An Evening With Renée Fleming/Ion Martin (EuroArts Blu + DVD) + Haydn – Il Mondo Della Luna (Unitel Classica/C Major Blu + DVD)


Picture: B- (Circus n/a, DVDs: C+)     Sound: B (Fleming and DVDs: B-)     Extras: C (Mondo and Nutcracker: C+, Experience and Circus: C-)     Main Programs: B (Europakonzert: B+)



Naxos is back with more Blu-rays, DVDs and some interesting entries among them guaranteed to keep fans of the arts (Opera, Classical, etc.) happy with these October 2010 releases.  All are excellent programs and they are…


Europakonzert 2010 is the highlight of the new batch, as Daniel Barenboim is back conducting the Berliner Philharmonkier on works by Wagner, Elgar and Brahms, but the best part of this is guest Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who is possibly one of the most talented, passionate and amazing musicians playing this classic instrument today.  This is a powerful 89 minutes and she is the highlight, though Barenboim is playing up to his usually high standards.


John Corgliano – Circus Maximus is not a new Blu Spec CD but an audio-only recording by the composer whose motion picture work includes The Red Violin and Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), delivering another powerful recording with The University Of Texas Wind Ensemble with Jerry Junkin conducting.  The 2004 work runs 35:43 and is yet another smart, powerful piece by Corgliano and up to his best work.  Gazebo Dances for Band (written in 1972) is also performed.


Blu-ray Experience II is another compilation of sequences from Opus Arte Blu-ray releases, many of which we have covered.  The 14 sampled (with conductors) include Handel’s Giulio Cesare (William Christie), Delibes – Sylvia (Graham Bond), Mozart – Cosi fan tutte (Ivan Fischer), Romero & Juliet/Shakespeare Globe series, Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas (Christopher Hogwood), Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Antonio Pappano), Hérold’s Le fille mal gardeé (Anthony Twiner), Puccini’s La Boheme (Andris Nelsons), Cavalli’s Ercole Amante (Ivor Bolton), Purcell’s Fairy Queen (W. Christie), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Charles Mackerras), Henze’s Ondine (Barry Wordsworth), Humperdink – Hansel & Gretel (Opus Arte) and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (Valeriy Ovsyanikov).  It makes for a nice intro discs, but we have covered most of the entire Blu-ray releases highlighted here elsewhere on this site, so look them up before deciding whether this compilation is for you.


Mahler Sym. No. 1/Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3/Abbado is the thirds time we have covered Blu-ray concerts in what has shaped up as a strong series of performances, we have covered the his Mahler Blu-rays of No. 2, 5 & 6 with the same results that can be found at this link:




Nutcracker/Tchaikovsky/Royal Ballet has Opus Arte once again releasing another version of the famous ballet on Blu-ray.  You can read about the San Francisco Ballet version at the link above.  Again however, this one is also too soft for its own good and neither are very distinctive, though both are serviceable.


An Evening With Renée Fleming has Ion Martin delivering a fine outdoor concert that is very effective and a nice change of pace from the usual releases.  Miss Fleming joins in effectively and melds well with the orchestra on some (but not all) of the 13 classics performed.  I hope we see more releases like this one and not just more Shakespeare Globe shows.


Haydn – Il Mondo Della Luna rounds out the latest offerings we are covering, recorded in 2009 for the composers 90th Anniversary.  This comedy (from Carlo Goldoni crosses fantasy, satire and even some science fiction elements (albeit dated) as an astronomer tries to show that life exists on the moon, which involves money, manipulation, people and is a surprisingly engaging work.  It is also fun.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all six Blu-rays with picture are not bad for such HD shoots, though Mondo has some Video Black issues more apparent in its anamorphically enhanced DVD version and the Fleming DVD is also a little weak with more motion blur than most of the programs, but all have some due to the state of early HD recording.  All Blu-rays also have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes (Mondo has 5.0) and all sound pretty good, though there were no breakout mixes ands there are issues with the audio-only Circus disc, which sports an 88.2 kHz 24-bit recording from 2006 that can be harsh and have an edge that hurts its playback, well recorded as it otherwise is.  The DTS DVDs both have compression issues you can hear in the Blu-ray lossless mixes, but Mondo in both formats is the other obvious underperformer in the group.  PCM 2.0 Stereo is also offered on all nine releases and Dolby Digital 5.1 is offered on the DVDs.


Extras include informative booklets in seven of the releases, save Circus, which has a paper pullout that shows hot the orchestra was set up for recording and lacks more technical information for a disc that boasts its audio and Experience, which only shows which Blu-rays it takes its scenes from.  Most have trailers for other Blu-rays and Monde adds a Making of featurette, while Nutcracker adds a Cast Gallery, Rehearsals at White Lodge and Peter Wright tells the story of The Nutcracker.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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