Berloiz: Benvenuto Cellini (Naxos/Unitel Classica) + McGregor’s Chroma Infra Limen (Opus Arte) + Wagner’s Die Walkure/Thielemann (Opus Arte) + Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quichot (ArtHaus) + Mahler Symp. No. 7/Abbado (EuroArts/Naxos Blu-ray) + Mahler Symp. No. 8/Antoni Wit + Vivaldi/Four Seasons/Sejong (Naxos
Audio Blu-rays) + R. Strauss/Die Frau
ohne Schatten (Art Haus DVD) + Stanley
Kubrick’s Mountain Home – Paul Elwood (Innova CD) + The Sound Of Harp/Silke Aichhorn (Top Music/Intermusic Gold CD)
C+/B-/C+/B-/B-/X/X/C+/X/X Sound: B/B/B/B/B+/B-/B/B-/B-/B Extras: C/C+/B-/B-/C+/C-/C-/C/D/D Main Programs: B- (Abbado/Aichhorn: B/Home: C+)
PLEASE NOTE: The Harp 24K Gold Compact Disc is only available from our friends at
Top Music International and can be ordered at the link below. The rest of the titles are from Naxos and can be ordered from their website or other fine
latest round of Classical titles have a few surprises and disappointments. We start with Berloiz: Benvenuto Cellini, our second-ever Hector Berloiz title
and the result is on par with the longer, slightly richer Les Troyens we covered at this link:
act opera has a mix of new elements and approaches that try and succeed well in
expanding the tale of a couple who tries to elope and must face the larger
world. Burkhard Fritz has the title role
and Maija Kovalevska is love interest Teresa.
I liked this version and only the Blu-ray image holds it back.
Wayne McGregor’s Chroma Infra
Limen is a new
three part ballet mixing new choreography with different color and light up
settings that make for compelling viewing and something experimental that
succeeds more than you might think. The
Royal Ballet and Royal Opera House deliver the work as one of the most modern
ballet programs we have seen in any format.
Whether it will endure is another thing, but it is interesting.
there is yet another version of Richard
Wagner’s Die Walkure, but this time, we have Christian Thielemann conducting
and it is every bit as good as the Zubin Mehta version on Blu-ray we covered at
version is more traditional and I liked it slightly better, though I have yet
to see a definitive version.
Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quichot on the other hand is one of the
better releases here, a ballet (with the Dutch National Ballet) of a work by
Minkus, who we have never covered before.
I liked it, though some sequence work better than others and Conductor
Kevin Rhodes keeps the energy up. It is
one of the most distinct works here and worth seeing for those who like ballet.
Mahler Symp. No. 7/Abbado continues the Abbado series we
have covered five volumes of so far, which you can read more about, starting at
remains a top Blu-ray series and the sonically most competent and expansive
title on this list. The work is
definitive, which is something I cannot say about the audio-only Blu-ray for Mahler Symp. No. 8/Antoni Wit from
which lacks some of the energy of the Abbado series and is a little less
exciting sonically than the Abbado releases, though it is still good. Another audio-only release is of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons involving
the ensemble Sejong, Violinist Cho-Liang Lin and Anthony Newman on Harpsichord
and Organ. Though recorded with less
kilohertz than Mahler Symp. No. 8,
this is sonically better and I liked the performance overall more.
DVD entry this time around is one of Richard
Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten and for all his popularity and importance,
we have not covered enough Strauss work, so this was a welcome entry. It is so long that it is here as a double DVD
set and is the equal in performance to any of the other Blu-ray stage
performance releases we have here. The
twist here is that it is a Japanese version and has never been performed in
that country apparently, but translates well as one would expect from the work
of a master. Wolfgang Sawallisch
conducts, Ennosuke Ichikawa directs.
oddest release of late a new album from Paul Elwood entitled Stanley Kubrick’s Mountain Home. As a fan and much more of the filmmaker’s
work, I just had to hear it, but it has absolutely nothing to do with his work
or even the man, but the title track is based on myths about him being a
hermit. The rest of the five tracks are
fairly good on an instrumental level, but this is a work that is not very
memorable overall and the title plays like a bad joke.
we get Silke Aichhorn’s album The Sound
Of Harp released as a 24K Gold CD from the specialty independent label Top
Music. Subtitled Music From Heaven, it
offers 18 very well recorded tracks (including classics by Debussy, Bach,
Brahms, Schumann and Tschaikowsky
(aka Tchaikovsky) that runs about an hour.
This is some of the best recorded and performed harp instrumental work I
have ever heard outside of those too-rare live performances and the disc is
terrific. The harp is one of those
instruments considered old fashioned, but I think it is highly underrated and
this album shows us why.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on five Blu-rays with picture here are
pretty much on par with each other, having good color, but also soft shots and
motion blur throughout, but the Cellini
and Wagner releases have even more
blur and softness, something the DVD of Schatten
also has more of, but you would expect that from a lower definition format.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and they are all
excellent, save the best mix on the Abbado
Blu and the somewhat limited sonics of the Mahler
Symp. No. 8 audio-only Blu. The Schatten DVD set has regular DTS 5.1
that is limited at least by being the older lossy version of that format, but
it is hard to tell if the recording limits it in any way. They all also have PCM 2.0 Stereo and Schatten even has a Dolby Digital 5.1
mix that is not as good as the DTS and a little weaker than its PCM
equivalent. The PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo
sound on the CDs are total opposites with Mountain
being limited in its sonics and Harp
being as impressive as any choice here.
For the record, the audio-only Blu-rays are both 24Bits, but Mahler is
96 kHz while Season is recorded in 88.2 kHz and still presented in 96 kHz.
all Blu-rays and the DVD set include an informative (and usually thick)
booklet, with Wagner adding a Making Of featurette and Cast Gallery, Chroma adding introductions by
McGregor, Abbado has trailers and Quichot adding Interviews and a Behind
The Scenes featurette.
out more about ordering the Gold Harp
CD, the direct order link is: