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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Opera > Ballet > Concert > Comedy > Drama > Romance > Culture > Biography > Andris Nelsons/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 (C Major/Unitel Classica)/Claudio Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea/Liceu Opera Barcelona (Opus Arte)/Leos Janacek: Vec Ma

Andris Nelsons/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 (C Major/Unitel Classica)/Claudio Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea/Liceu Opera Barcelona (Opus Arte)/Leos Janacek: Vec Makropulos/Wiener Philharmoniker/Esa-Pekka Salonen (C Major/Unitel Classica)/Alonzo King: Lines Ballet (Art Haus/3sat)/Carlos Kleiber: Traces To Nowhere (ArtHaus/Naxos Blu-rays)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-/B/B/B/B-     Extras: C+/C+/C+/B-/C+     Main Programs: B-/B-/B-/C+/B-

 

 

Now for our latest look at classical music release on Blu-ray.

 

 

We start with Andris Nelsons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Op. 65) which also includes Wagner’s Rienzi: Overture and Richard Strauss’ Salome as warm up performances.  I thought the show was good and performances were good, yet there is something about this one that missed the mark.  It is a little short at 100 minutes, the technique is there and so is the talent, but the energy might be off.  It also just did not stay with me, but you can see it for yourself and judge.  Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the concert and trailers.

 

 

Claudio Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the Liceu Opera Barcelona is an opera about the title woman, who became the bride of the ever-controversial Emperor Nero and is therefore a comedy, which is sometimes dark as you could imagine considering the circumstances.  This too is well done and has some fine moments, but it may have missed some of the nuances of the story’s darker side, yet it is a very welcome show.  Harry Bicket conducted, David Alden directed and singers include Miah Persson, Sarah Connolly, Jordi Doménech and Franz-Josef Selig.  Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the concert, a Cast Gallery and Illustrated Synopsis.

 

 

Next we have Leos Janacek: Vec Makropulos with the Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, one of the best classical conductors in the business.  As staged by Christoph Marthaler, this opera is as good as anything on the list and yet, it too is a little limited and not the home run we usually get from Salonen, though it has its moments.  I have also liked the earlier Janacek works we covered.  A more complex, sophisticated work, it is minimalist, futurist (at least in a modernist way) and set in the “future” where ideas of art, alienation and music are explored.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not.  I should add that I did not expect this to look like Alien or Blade Runner, so it could still stand on its own, nor did I expect it to be Fassbinder’s World On A Wire, which it had similarities to.

 

It is well performed, but I think Salonen, Marthaler and company simply got caught up in a corner and though the music is interesting and challengingly dealt with, it falls short in going all the way in future projection and fails to mine all it can from that.  Still, the show is different and worth a look.  Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the concert and trailers.

 

For more on works related to artists here, try these links:

 

Janacek: Cunning Little Vixens Blu-ray

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9307/Humperdinck%E2%80%99s+Hansel+&

 

Janacek: Jenufa Blu-ray

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/11230/Turnage%E2%80%99s+Anna+Nicole

 

Salonen: Bernard Herrmann – The Film Scores SA-CD

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7745/Rear+Window/Vertigo/Psycho+%E2%8

 

 

 

Alonzo King: Lines Ballet is a too-short, post-modern ballet program in which the artist has his dancers explore running 138 minutes and with music by Mickey Hart (the first of three parts), but this one was so abstract that it never developed into anything that stuck with me, despite some interesting designs by Christopher Haas.  Ballet lovers might really enjoy it as an exercise in new ballet, but it fell short for me despite al the talent involved.  At least it is ambitious and has some good moments that ballet fans will like.  Otherwise, I wanted more, even if closure was not an intent or goal.  Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the concert and featurette Alonzo King – Poet Of Time, running 22 minutes.

 

 

Finally we have the documentary biography Carlos Kleiber: Traces To Nowhere about the famous, beloved conductor, his life, his triumphs and how his love of the classics kept the arts alive in his lifetime.  Director Eric Schulz interviews many friends of his, including some big names in the business, then adds rare and obscure vintage footage to show us who he was and what he did.  The resulting portrait is complementary and well rounded, making this worth seeing, though I had more questions when all was said and done.  Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the artist and trailers.

 

 

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all five Blu-rays are not bad, but are also not what I would have liked.  Kleiber is a documentary, so poor image moments are expected, but the other four are stage concerts and have some motion blur, even when the color is good.  Otherwise, they are all watchable.  All the discs have PCM 2.0 Stereo, while the concerts (excluding Kleiber) offer superior DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, with Poppea, Janacek and King being the most impressive with consistent soundfields throughout.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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