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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Opera > Ballet > Concert > Comedy > Drama > Romance > Culture > W. A Mozart & Leopold Mozart (Intermusic SA-CD/Top Music International Gold CD/UQCD)/Elektra: Zurich Opera House (R. Strauss/ArtHaus)/La Forza del Destino/Verdi: Mehta (Unitel Classica/C Major)/Leo De

W. A Mozart & Leopold Mozart (Intermusic SA-CD/Top Music International Gold CD/UQCD)/Elektra: Zurich Opera House (R. Strauss/ArtHaus)/La Forza del Destino/Verdi: Mehta (Unitel Classica/C Major)/Leo Delibes’ Lamke: Sydney Opera House (Opera Australia)/Mahler Symp. No. 9/Abbado (EuroArts)/Strauss’ Salome: Soltesz (ArtHaus/Unitel Classica)/Tannhauser/Wagner: Weigel (Unitel Classica/C Major)/Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin: M. Jansons/Deneder Landse Opera (Opus Arte)/Tchaikovsky Suites: Magnifique (ArtHaus/Malandain/Naxos Blu-rays)


Picture: X/B-/C+/B-/B-/C+/C+/B-/C+     Sound: B/B/B+/B/B+/B/B/B/B-     Extras: D/C/C+/B-/C+/C+/C+/C+/B-     Music CD: B-     Blu-rays: B



PLEASE NOTE: The Mozart Gold Compact Disc is only available from our friends at Top Music International and can be ordered at the link below.  The Blu-rays are available at finer retailers and e-tailers everywhere.



Here are some recent classical selections, including new interpretations of some famous works we have covered before.


Of course we have covered many Mozart releases, but a new Gold CD from Intermusic called W. A Mozart & Leopold Mozart offers selections from both composers in classic recordings on one nice, high quality disc.  Here are the contents:


          Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

          Flute Concerto In G Major. KV 313

1)     Allegro maestoso

2)     Adagio non troppo

3)     Rondo Tempo diMenuetto, Katbinka Pasveer, flute, Radio-Symphonic

Orchester Berlin / Karlbeinz-Stockbausen. 1985

          Leopold Mozart

Sinfonia Di Caccia In G Major For Four Horns, Strings, Timpani and Basso Continuo

     4)  Allegro

     5)  Andante, piutosto un poco allegretto (A gusto d’un eco)

     6)  Menuett, Hermann Baumann, Christoph Kobler, Mabir Cakar, Jean-Pierre Lepetit, horn,           Concerto Amsterdam / Jaap Schroder. 1973

Sinfonia Di Camera In D Major For Four Horns, Violins, Timpani and Basso Continuo

     7)  Allegro moderato

     8)  Menuet

     9)  Andante

   10)  Allegro, Hermann Baumann, horn / Jaap Schroder, violin, Concerto Amsterdam / Jaap Schroder. 1973


For the records, the disc is remastered by Povee Chan using the following equipment and systems:


UQCD Ultra Quality Mastering

Mastering Monitor: almarro M1A

Monitor Amplifier: Octave Jubilee preamp

Power System: Isoclean Power Conditioning System

Mastered with Black Rhodium cables, Made in England

Disc Material: Premium Alloy Gold Compact Disc

Disc Manufactured by Sony


I liked the performances and the overall disc is well done, but it did not stick with me, though the recordings hold up well for their age and for fans of both composers is one to check out.


Now onto our Blu-rays.  We have covered Richard Strauss’ Elektra on three separate occasions, making this new Zurich Opera House version the fourth, but how does it compare to the others?  Here are the links to those versions first:


Von Dohnanyi TDK Blu-ray



Muncher Philharmoniker Opus Arte Blu-ray



Gatti Unitel Classica/ArtHaus Blu-ray



This edition is a little better than the Dohnanyi (which actually looked better on HDTV) and Gatti version, but on par with the Muncher performance so it is a bit of a surprise considering how popular it is and how often it has been done.  I also had mixed feelings about the stage set, but Martin Kusej’s stage directing is consistent and Conductor Christoph Von Dohnanyi do a serious job, but in all these versions, I have yet to find a definitive performance., even with fine singers including Eva Johansson.  The actual disc has no extras.



La Forza del Destino/Verdi: Mehta is from Unitel Classica/C Major and at first seemed like it might be essentially a reissue of this Mehta performance TDK issued on Blu-ray at this link:



However, this has a different cast, David Pountney as the stage director and is actually a little more effective than the earlier show.  This is not to say the first was awful or that the other cast and director “messed up” or even that Mehta did this again because he might have not been as happy with the last one.  The differences are not that dramatic.  However, I thought this just moved better and if I had to watch one again, it would be this one.  Trailers for other Blu-rays are the only extra on the disc itself.



Leo Delibes’ Lamke: Sydney Opera House from the Opera Australia label is yet another fine Delibes work well performed and adds to the pleasure of the other Delibes works including Coppélia at this link:


…and Sylvia at this link:



This tale is considered Delibes best (according to the case, which might be true as one of the first works to address the state of colonization) as a British solider (Aldo Di Toro) falls for a priestess in India (Emma Matthews) during the height of British Colonial control of that country.  Colorful, interesting and well performed from Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House, which after you watch this, you’ll see why the place has become so legendary and is one of the great international locales keeping opera and all the classical arts alive.  Emmanuel Joel-Hornak is the conductor and this is the first Blu-ray title we have covered from the label.  Hope we get more.  Extras on the disc include trailers for other concerts on Blu-ray, Cast Gallery and Director Roger Hodgman’s on camera interview.



This new Mahler Symp. No. 9 by Claudio Abbado on EuroArts is also not the same Abbado performance of the same symphony we covered in a different version by Accentus on Blu-ray at this link:



However, this version with the Gustav Mahler Legend Orchestra assembled from some of Europe’s best new talent has better surround performance and is one of the best-sounding discs on this list.  The performance is equally solid and you can’t go wrong with either disc.  Trailers are the only extras on the disc.



We have encountered Richard Strauss’ Salome before several times as well, and not have this fine Stefan Soltesz version from ArtHaus/Unitel Classica to look at.  For those unfamiliar, here are some other versions of the story, including a non-Opera version for completists, the Rita Hayworth feature film DVD version:



Royal Opera/Opus Arte Blu-ray version



Earlier release of Royal Opera Blu-ray



I think this is on par with the previous Royal Opera release, though that one did not stick with me and this one was also with some minor issues, but the singers are really good and Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s stage directing is good, if not stunning.  This is so popular that it is not an easy work to do something new with, but this is still ambitious and as accessible as any I have encountered to date.  Angela Denoke, Kim Begley and Alan Held are among the singers.  Trailers for other Blu-rays are the only extra on the disc itself.


Conductor Sebastian Weigel’s new version of Wagner’s Tannhauser (Unitel Classica/C Major) is more recent, but just as fine as the 2008 Phillippe Jordan version we covered on Blu-ray at this link:



This Gran Teatre del Liceu version is just as rich and direct as its predecessor with fine vocal performances including Peter Seiffert, Petra Marie Schnitzer and Beatrice Uria-Monzon, so if you have not seen the opera or like it, you cannot go wrong with either version.  Trailers for other Blu-rays are the only extra on the disc itself.

Finally, we have two more impressive Tchaikovsky Blu-ray offerings.  Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Conductor Mariss Jansons, the Deneder Landse Opera and Stage Director Stefan Herheim from Opus Arte joins their memorable Blu-ray release of Tchaikovsky Pique Dame/Queen Of Spades we covered at this link:



Of course, this is a biographical opera and a very effective one done very, very well and one of the best discs here.  Bo Skovhus, Krassimira Stoyanova, Andre J. Dunaev and Mikhail Petrenko head the cast and I found it compelling.  Set design is not bad and this is one of the better HD shoots here as well.  Trailers for other Blu-rays are the only extra on the disc itself.  As an aside, I also recommend the Onegin feature film (non-Opera) with Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler & Toby Stephens from 1999 that was highly underrated and underseen.



Tchaikovsky Suites: Magnifique is a compilation ballet choreographed by Thierry Malandan that is a slid 80-minutes journey though the work of both artists with some very active modern (even post-modern) ballet work here doing justice to the original compositions.  It is the shortest work here, yet more compelling that you would expect.  I liked it, though I wish the image had been clearer, but more on that in a moment.  Extras on the disc itself include interview/behind-the-scenes footage and a separate Making Of featurette.


For more compilation works on the legendary composer, try the Tchaikovsky Cycle DVD Box set at this link:




The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all eight Blu-rays have their share of good color, but not always definition.  Forza, Salome, Tannhauser and Magnifique all have motion blur and detail issues, including some detail break up at times.  The first three programs as performed in the previous versions by others on Blu-ray linked above actually look better than these new shoots despite being recordings and releases.  The rest have minor detail issues and minor blur, but are much more of what we expect from HD classical releases.


The PCM 16/44.1 Stereo on the Gold Mozart CD is not bad, but also shows the age of the recording, which is good, but has some sonic limits.  All the Blu-rays have PCM 2.0 Stereo for purists who do not like surround sound and/or for cross compatibility with older systems, save Magnifique, which has only this type of PCM track.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes on the rest of the Blu-rays at least rate excellent, but the Forza (with a stunning 5.0 mix) and Mahler (with a 5.1 mix) discs have the best surround and sound of all nine discs here with audiophile, demo quality much of the way through on both.  That leaves 5.1 mixes on the rest, save 5.0 on Salome.  That made this batch an unusually interesting group to go through.


Additional extras in all the Blu-rays are the multi-language, nicely illustrated booklet on the shows including informative text.



To find out more about ordering the Mozart Gold CD, 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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