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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Ballet > Concert > Multi-Chanel Music > Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 + No. 2 (Naxos High Definition Audio Disc/Blu-rays) + Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 1, 2, & 3/Thielemann (C Major Blu-ray + DVD Set) + Mahler – Symp. 5/Abbado (EuroArts Blu-ray

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 + No. 2 (Naxos High Definition Audio Disc/Blu-rays) + Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 1, 2, & 3/Thielemann (C Major Blu-ray + DVD Set) + Mahler – Symp. 5/Abbado (EuroArts Blu-ray) + Donizetti: Maria Stuarda (C Major Blu-ray) + Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Magic Flute/ArtHaus DVD Set) + Harm Organ/Sigmund & Iver (2L Blu-ray/SA-CD Set) + La Bayadère/Royal Ballet (Opus Arte Blu-ray) + Mantovani: Siddharta/Preljocaj (EuroArts Blu-ray)


Picture: X/X/B- & C+/B-/B-/C/C+*/B-/B-     Sound: B/B/B+ & B/B+/B+/C/B/B/B+     Extras: C/C-/B-/C+/C+/C/C/C+/C     Concerts/Music: B (Zauberflöte: B-)



In yet another round of always interesting releases from Naxos and the great labels they distribute, we have some high definition audio mixed in with our Blu-rays and a classic performance from 1982 on DVD.


First are a continuing series of Blu-rays dubbed High Definition Audio Disc by Naxos in an attempt to lure audiophiles into the format.  With only menu images, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra with pianist Eldar Nebolsin delivers Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 + No. 2 on separate discs.  Recorded in 24-bit 88.2 kHz PCM surround, the discs offer PCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HA MA (Master Audio) 5.0 mixes of the music (both 96/24 and recorded in 2009) and this is not as harsh as some of the previous such recordings and releases, comparatively smoother than before.  These are very nice presentations and go nicely with the Chopin Blu-rays Naxos and Accentus just issued that we covered at this link:





The amazingly talented Christian Thielemann conducts Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 1, 2, & 3 in an exceptional concert release arriving from C Major in both a single Blu-ray and 3-DVD Set.  A companion with a similar Beethoven Symphony 4, 5 & 6 program just issued (we did not cover it), it is a masterful interpretation worthy of the best recordings you have heard and this is a solid release, enhanced by no less than an informative booklet and three documentaries on the subject: Discovering Beethoven with Joachim Kaiser and Christian Thielemann, with an hour devoted to each masterpiece composition.  The DVD set is nice, but I preferred the Blu-ray all around for its superior performance (especially that sound!) and convenience of storage.  The DTS-HD (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is amazing and the Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is good for that format, but just cannot handle the sonic range of the soundmaster.


What has to be the best series of music of any kind on Blu-ray to date continues with Claudio Abbado conducting Mahler – Symphony No. 5 from EuroArts.  Well shot and recorded, again with exceptional sound, but is a reissue of the Medici Arts (a sister label) PCM Blu-ray now with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound and I did notice a slight improvement in this edition.  Here is the link to the original review:




You will be happy with either copy.  We have also covered the following Mahler Symphonies from Abbado for those interested:





2 + 6









3 was issued November 2009 on Blu-ray, but we missed that one.  Collect ‘em all!



Donizetti: Maria Stuarda is the third and final major sonic winner amongst the selections this time around in another Blu-ray from C Major.  This timely trilogy on the Tudor Queens (the hit cable TV show has renewed interest in everything Tudor) and is in three parts, including Anna Bolena and Roberto Devereux.  This lesser-known, performed and seen piece is done very well here with the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro La Fenice and is a great way to be introduced to the work.


We have covered Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (aka The Magic Flute) in two High Definition versions before, but the ArtHaus DVD Set is actually of a much older 1982 analog videotaping from the Salzburger Festspiele that is not bad, but this is not my favorite work and it is on par with the Opus Arte Blu-ray version:




That one was just a bit smoother in how it worked on stage, but fans will want to see this older version because it is still very good.  The booklet included is not bad either and thicker than most booklets in this batch of releases.


Our third and final audio-only entry is Harm Organ by Sigmund Groven and Ivan Kleive recorded in the DXD 24-bit/352.8 kHz format that I am no fan of, is a bad substitute for Super Audio Compact Disc’s native DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format and is presented here in PCM 2.0 192/24 and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 192/24 5.1 mixes by the 2L label.  The Blu-ray and SA-CD are very much the same in playback quality, but this time, the DXD does not have a harsh or shrill sound issue for the first time since we have been covering such recordings for whatever reason, though this is probably a fluke. 


Of the 23 tracks, they have composed most of them, though we also get Varsog by Henning Sommerro, Handel’s Cote d’Azur in F Major and Bach’s Flute Sonata in E-Flat Major.  Though not with out flaws, this is one of the best recordings of organ music I have heard to date.


Ludwig Minkus’ La Bayadère is another less-familiar ballet work getting solid treatment in a Blu-ray release and once again, The Royal Ballet and Opus Arte have come up with a top rate presentation all around in this tale of love, death, living and consequences that takes place in India.  Impressive down to the Natalia Makarova choreography, the extras include a Corps de Ballet featurette, Tamara Rojo profile, cast gallery and rehearsal footage.


Finally we have a Mantovani: Siddharta ballet with choreography by Angelin Preljocaj from EuroArts explores all of the themes of Buddha and the religious following he inspired.  Even if you are not religious, it is an impressive work as well, showing a real grasp and understanding of the philosophy.  The sound is once again exceptional and comes from the National Opera of Paris.


The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition on all the Blu-rays are pretty good, but all have their share of motion blur, even when the color is good.  All are on par with each other with no standouts or real problematic HD recordings.  The 1.33 X 1 image on Flute is the poorest of all the video here, as expected.


*We rate the Music Video quality on Organ only.


All the Blu-rays have PCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes (though Maria and Thielemann are 5.0, then turn out to be two of the best four mixes here!) and all have booklets as extras.  Mahler and Donizetti also have trailers for other Blu-ray releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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