Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (2011/Top Music/UQCD/M.A.T. 24K Gold CD)/Joaquin Achucarro/Simon Rattle (EuroArts)/Barenboim – Salzburg Concerts (Unitel
Classica)/Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame/Queen
Of Spades (Opus Arte/Naxos Blu-rays)/Verdi’s
Falstaff/Weikl (ArtHaus)/Spirit Of
Africa (Slideshow/ARC Music/NTSC & PAL formats/Naxos DVDs)/Scholastic Storybook Treasures Young Artists
Collection DVD Box Set w/Zin! Zin! Zin! Violin
Picture: X/B-/B-/B-/C+/C+/C+ Sound: B-/B/B/B/B-/B-/C+ Extras: D/C+/B/C/C/C-/C- Main
The Bartholdy Gold Compact Disc is only
available from our friends at Top Music International and can be ordered at the
link below. The others are available at
finer retailers everywhere.
Rudolf Serkin and Rena Kyriakou perform the works of the 20th
Century classical composer Felix
Mendelssohn Bartholdy on a 2011 reissue album from Top Music, presented
here in their UQCD/M.A.T. 24K Gold CD format.
Serkin delivers Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25 in three parts,
while Kyriakou offers Concerto for Piano & String Orchestra in A Minor,
also in three parts. These are fine
performances of the under-heard composer who deserves rediscovery and I liked
the older recordings. From their
original analog sources, they were remastered in 192kHz/32bit sound, then
downconverted to the 16bit/44.1kHz of this Gold CD. Though the resulting PCM 2.0 Stereo can sound
good, but can have some slight harshness on the edges. However, this is smooth otherwise.
onto Blu-ray, we have the joining of pianist Joaquin Achucarro and conductor
Sir Simon Rattle in a solid new Blu-ray release Joaquin Achucarro/Simon Rattle from EuroArts. We have covered the following previous
Blu-rays featuring Rattle at these links:
Yefim Bronfman/Simon Rattle:
Mussorgsky & Borodin/Rattle
concert performance from 2010 joins them and includes Manuel de Falla’s Nights In The Gardens Of Spain, moves
onto Falla & Friends recital
(including Debussy) and runs smoothly as it does non-stop. Impressive, fans will not be disappointed. Trailers and an informative booklet inside
the Blu-ray case are the extras.
Daniel Barenboim is back with The Salzburg Concerts and it is yet another of the many fine
concerts the master conductor has seen issued on Blu-ray. You can read about more of them at this general
Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky and (listed as a bonus track) Mozart are played this
time around and it is yet another live keeper.
At this point, I have to say how impressed the overall catalog of live
classical music concerts on Blu-ray has grown in to a very formidable
affair. Wish this was more the case with
other music genres. An informative
booklet inside the Blu-ray case is the only extra.
an Opera this time on Blu-ray too in Tchaikovsky’s
Pique Dame/Queen Of Spades, the tale inspired by Pushkin of gambling,
loving soldier Hermann makes for a fine opera as performed by the Gran Teatre
del Liceu, Barcelona. He wants to be with aristocrat Lisa, but will
he give up her love for the secret of the three cards? A grand production all around with top rate
vocals, this is a great intro to this classic.
Extras include a Cast Gallery and an informative booklet inside the
onto DVD, the Bernd Weikl/Uwe Sandner production of Verdi’s Falstaff is just as strong an opera, with the title
character broke, failed and slowly self-destructing (a beer was named after
him!) is very compelling, effective and I only wish this were a Blu-ray too
because this is as colorful and grand a production as Pique Dame and deserves
such treatment. This is from the
Pfalztheater Kaiserlautern and another gem. An informative booklet inside the Blu-ray case
is the only extra.
not necessarily classical, The Spirit Of
Africa sets beautiful still images of the great continent to African music
(12 selections in all) in a pleasant, interesting mix that tries to convey the
country and its essence with a new approach.
This might not be for everyone, but will expose the viewer to the images
and music artists they will not likely hear otherwise. Home video fans will be additionally curious
about the flipper DVD, which has one side in the U.S. NTSC format and the other
in the U.K. PAL format, which are region free.
A thin booklet with very high quality print is the only extra.
we have a box set of DVDs. Scholastic Storybook Treasures Young
Artists Collection happens to also be coming out and fits into this review
just fine. We have covered many
Scholastic DVD releases, as this link will show:
offers shorts new to us including Zin!
Zin! Zin! Violin with music by Marvin Hamlisch, a single that also offers The Star Spangled Banner suing by
Aretha Franklin, Musical Max
narrated by Mary Beth Hurt, Keeping
House, Patrick and Apt. 3.
The Dot single has Thora
Birch narrating this tale about the power of drawing, Bobby McFerrin narrates Art, Chester Gregory narrates Ish, Katherine Kellgren narrates Norman the Doorman and Zach Braff (Chicken Little) narrates Wallace’s Lists. The
Shrinking Violet single included the title short narrated by Calista
Flockhart, Giraffes Can’t Dance
narrated by Billy Dee Williams, Three
Cheers For Catherine The Great! narrated by Ekaterina Gordeeva and Amazing Grace narrated by Alfre
Woodard. This is a nice collection for
children that is as child-friendly as you will see on the subject of creativity
and we need to see more and from more sources.
Art illustrator Patrick
McDonnell is interviewed in the one extra across the set.
surprise, the Barenboim Blu-ray is
actually listed as a 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer, but
it is no better than the 1080i 1.78 X 1 on the other Blu-rays and all look good
with good color and some good shots.
However, all of them have some motion blur and some other minor flaws
throughout. Falstaff is here in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1
presentation and it is weaker than the Blu-rays, even though it has basically
the same flaws. Africa says it is also an
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 DVD, but the images on either side look 1.33 X
1 to me. Like Falstaff and the Scholastic
DVDs, which are also 1.33 X 1, you have some aliasing errors and color limits,
but what you would pretty much expect from the older DVD format.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and lesser but still
viable PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes. In all
cases, the DTS is rich, full and has a good soundfield throughout, which is not
always the case with these releases, but is here. Falstaff and Africa
have PCM 2.0 Stereo only, which is good, but not great, and the Scholastic DVDs have lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo and even Mono, which is serviceable, but not as good as the
other releases here.
out more about ordering the Felix
Mendelssohn Bartholdy CD, start with this link, then find the title, then
go to the HOW TO ORDER tab on the left-hand side column:
direct order link is:
- Nicholas Sheffo