Ali Isabella: Say You’ll Be Mine (AIX Blu-ray w/CD)/Adolphe Adam: Giselle/Bolshoi Ballet/Yuri Grigorovich (BelAir
Classiques)/Andris Nelsons Royal
Concertgebouw Orchestra/Yefim Bronfman: Beethoven Piano Concerto No.
5/Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade (C Major/Unitel Classica)/Renee Fleming/Christian Thielemann/Werner
Philharmoniker: Lieder Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (Opus Arte/Naxos
Picture: C+/B-/B-/B- Sound: B Extras: C-/C/C+/C Main Programs: C/B/B/B
latest set of music Blu-rays includes something unusual with the Classical type
offerings we like to look at…
exception is Ali Isabella: Say You’ll Be
Mine, the AIX label’s attempt to launch a pop/country artist with a Blu-ray/CD
set in a CD jewel box. She may be pretty
and have a good voice, but it is hard to say how good when it is being melded
with digital harmonics (the tired pop formula these days, esp. since Cher’s hit
Believe and even company putting
style over substance by using such gadgets to cover up the limits of their
would-be singers), though Miss Isabella may be a little better a singer than
many her generation who are cutting songs.
the nine tracks on the CD and even less on the Blu-ray did not stay with me,
were not very memorable and was not what I was expecting. Maybe someone would find this appealing if it
is their kind of music, but she and her listeners deserve something more
challenging and less commercial. I did
not know what to count as an extra form the Blu-ray, so we’ll give it our lowest
rating and consider almost all of it main material.
Classical ground, we revisit Adolphe Adam’s
Giselle for the third time in a third different performance, this time from
the Bolshoi Ballet issued by BelAir Classiques.
Here is our coverage of the previous Blu-ray editions:
Royal Opera House/BBC/Opus Arte
Grigorovich-choreographed version is as strong and well realized a ballet as
the previous versions, all of which we liked.
I was pleasantly surprised and it goes to show how many ballet lovers
love this work and how it just has a knack of playing on stage so well. Costume and set wise, this was as beautiful
as the others and if I had to choose between the three we have covered to date,
it would be very hard because they are all impressive. A nicely illustrated booklet including
informative text in more than one language is the only extra.
Andris Nelsons & The Royal
Concertgebouw Orchestra with Yefim Bronfman: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 + Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade
is a follow-up of sorts to the same conductor and orchestra performing Shostakovich
Symphony No. 8 on Blu-ray, which was not bad and we reviewed at this link:
this program sounds a little better and plays a bit better than the previous
release, but is still in the spirit and form of the first. I guess this is going to become some kind of
unofficial series, but whether it will be as consistent in the long run is
another question. However, for simply
having the orchestra play classics with no vocals, this is a solid
release. Of course, you’d have to like
the pieces performed, but they are good and well done here. A nicely illustrated booklet including
informative text in more than one language and four trailers for other C Major
Blu-rays are the only extras.
we have Renee Fleming, Christian
Thielemann and Werner Philharmoniker: Lieder Richard Strauss: Eine
Alpensinfonie in which the great opera singer can more than challenge the
complete orchestra delivering some amazing work all around. Hard as this is to believe, we are more sued
to seeing men do this than women, but Miss Fleming is one of the best opera
singers alive and seeing and hearing her more than challenge the great
musicians here and delivering each classic in exceptional vocal form is
something special for so many reasons.
That we can enjoy this with the fidelity Blu-ray offers sheds new light
on the art and impact of the classics and special talents involved.
I am also
a Thielemann fan and before I continue, include links to three of his memorable
Blu-ray releases we would also recommend for serious fans:
Beethoven Symp. No 1, 2 & 3
Beethoven Symp. No 7 & 9
to say you combine him and his work and capacities with Miss Fleming and this
is more like an unrecognized event than just another name show. The result is great and I wish it were
longer. A nicely illustrated booklet
including informative text in more than one language is the only extra.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all four Blu-rays have some detail
issues and all have good color, but the HD footage on Isabella is weaker, has more motion blur, more color limits and even
image shimmer that is just a bit sloppy.
All Blu-rays also have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that
all sound good and better than their PCM 2.0 Stereo alternate sound versions
(including the 16/44.1 PCM on the Isabella
CD). However, the Classical discs have a
slight edge and more natural sound than the Isabella discs, but all have good,
consistent soundfields, so those with home theater capacities will not be
- Nicholas Sheffo