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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Concert > Instrumental > Drama > Literature > Myth > Idil Biret Archive Edition – 11/Ignacio Cervantes: Danzas Cubanas/Johann Strauss 1 Edition V. 20 (Naxos CDs)/Carlo Colombara: The Art Of The Bass (Naxos DVD)/Joe Weed: The Vultures (Intermusic SA-CD/S

Idil Biret Archive Edition – 11/Ignacio Cervantes: Danzas Cubanas/Johann Strauss 1 Edition V. 20 (Naxos CDs)/Carlo Colombara: The Art Of The Bass (Naxos DVD)/Joe Weed: The Vultures (Intermusic SA-CD/Super Audio Compact Disc/Top Music International)/Rise & Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny – Weill/Brecht/Teatro Real Madrid (BelAir/Naxos Blu-ray)/Medea (1969/Pasolini/Callas/E1 Blu-ray)


Picture: X/X/X/C+/X/B-/B-     Sound: B-/B-/B-/B-/B+ & B/B/C+     Extras: D (City: C/Medea: B)     Main Programs: B/B/B/B-/B/B/B-



PLEASE NOTE: The Super Audio Compact Disc of Vulture is only available from our friends at Top Music International, has a Compact Disc layer that will play on virtually all CD players and can be ordered at the link below.  All other titles are available on Amazon.com on the sidebar and at finer retailers.



We now take a look at some recent year-ending releases in the classical, instrumental, dramatic and music arts.  They include four different formats and some fine programming all around.


First we have three decent new CD releases from Naxos: Idil Biret Archive Edition 11 (including pieces by Saygun, Français, Alkan & Balakirev), Ignacio Cervantes: Danzas Cubanas (with Ahvaro Cendoya on piano, 38 tracks!) and Johann Strauss 1 Edition V. 20 from the label that has done a great job of continuously supporting Classical Music and the first recording is archival having tracks from 1958 – 1993.  Cubanas is from 2010 but is a softer recording and the Strauss disc was recorded for 2011.  They are all very serviceable discs as is always the case with Naxos, but I really liked the performances overall.


Carlo Colombara: The Art Of The Bass and Rise & Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny – Weill/Brecht/Teatro Real Madrid are our two opera offerings this time around, both very well done, though Bass is shorter than I would have liked and starts out looking more like a concert than an opera, but it quickly smooths its way into the stage show and moves on from there.  City influenced one of Jim Morrison’s Doors hits and is all out in delivering the Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht classic.  You can’t go much wrong with either if you have never seen/experienced them as Naxos and its related labels continue to deliver the arts like not other label or distributor in the business.  Both come with informative illustrated booklets with technical information and City adds four trailers for other BelAir Blu-ray releases.


An instrumental release with a difference is Joe Weed: The Vultures, another

Super Audio CD release showing the format is far from dead and this one (with guitarist Weed also covering fiddles and mandolins and backed by four other top musicians) has 10 classic instrumentals remade very nicely and sometimes with variation on more familiar arrangements that makes this a pleasant, fun collection.  Tracks include Pipeline, Apache, Sleepwalk, Walk, Don’t Run, Rebel Rouser, Stranger On The Shore, Green Onions, Alley Cat, Wipeout and Last Date.  Audiophiles and fans of these songs will especially enjoy this one.


Finally was have the fourth and final installment in the “Mythical Cycle” of Pier Paolo Pasolini (following Oedipus Rex, Teorema (or Theorema) and Pigpen (or Porcile, see all elsewhere on this site), Medea (1969) in which the title character (opera legend Maria Callas in her only dramatic role, though her voice is still key here) wants Jason and those Argonauts to get that Golden Fleece, but this is far from the 1963 fantasy film (also issued on Blu-ray) with its symbolism, nudity and homoeroticism.  Still, it is a fascinating take on the tale and one that people still talk about.  It is a well done film and I may have missed some of the points, but it flows well with the previous Pasolini films and is definitely a film of his making, distinguished even from similar work by Fellini.  The one extra is an excellent documentary on Callas by Tony Palmer, whose work you will find in several releases on this site.



Not for the playback quality of each release.  Of course, the CDs do not have any picture, but the DVD of Bass is anamorphically enhanced at 1.78 X 1 and is soft throughout, partly from the transfer and partly from the style chosen.  This can be distracting.  The 1.78 X 1, 1080i digital High Definition image transfer on City is better, but also has limitations in its style and some motion blur, though not as much as Bass.  The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Medea is the best-looking of all narrowly from a restored print but the film still shows its age.  Director of Photography Ennio Guarnieri (Garden Of The Finzi-Continis, Camille 2000, De Sica’s The Voyage) creates a dense, yet open world typical of Pasolini’s work and makes the most of Miss Callas throughout.  It looks good and is very visually involving down to Dante Ferretti’s production design.  Originally in EastmanColor, this is the least faded we are likely to ever see it.


The PCM 2.0 16/44.1 sound on the three CDs is a little on the weak side, though the Strauss disc sounds best.  The Bass DVD is credited as having DTS on the disc itself, but all we really get is decent PCM 16/48 2.0 Stereo that is on par with the CDs.  The PCM 2.0 Mono on Medea is good for its age, but also shows the limits of the recording.  The City Blu-ray also has PCM 2.0 Stereo, but its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is better and outperforms all the video releases here as expected.  The sonic champ is Vulture with PCM 16/48 2.0 Stereo equal to any of the other programs and better, but the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 2.0 Stereo track is the sonic champ with amazing clarity and detail.



To find out more about ordering Vultures, start with this link, then go to the HOW TO ORDER tab on the left-hand side column:




The direct order link is:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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