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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Concert > Opera > Solo > Documentary > Berliner Philharmoniker: Daniel Barenboim/Radek Baborak: Mozart + Celibidache: Bruckner + Die 12 Cellisten/Herbert Blomstedt: Bach/Beethoven (all EuroArts)/Falstaff: Verdi/Gatti/Zurich Opera House (Un

Berliner Philharmoniker: Daniel Barenboim/Radek Baborak: Mozart + Celibidache: Bruckner + Die 12 Cellisten/Herbert Blomstedt: Bach/Beethoven (all EuroArts)/Falstaff: Verdi/Gatti/Zurich Opera House (Unitel Classica)/Flute Concertos At Sanssouci (Unitel Classica)/Mozart: Idomeneo/Nagano (EuroArts)/Bryan Pezzone: Piano Pieces (AIX Blu-ray 3D w/ Blu-ray 2D)/Gounod’s Romeo Et Juliette/Arena Di Verona (BelAir/Naxos Blu-rays)


3D Picture: B-     2D Picture: B- (Bruckner: C+)     Sound: B (Flute: B+, Romeo: B-)     Extras: B-/B/B/B-/C+/C+/C+/C+/C     Main Programs: B/B-/B/B/B/B/B/C+/B-



Now for a look at a new set of Classical Music Blu-ray releases recently issued by Naxos and their affiliated labels…



First we have no less than three programs with the world famous (and rightly prestigious) Berliner Philharmoniker.  First, we have the latest of many fine titles with conductor Daniel Barenboim joined by Radek Baborak (on horn) for a show that features four complete Mozart works.  Those unfamiliar with Barenboim’s past excellence, especially in Blu-ray, can start with this link:




From May 1, 2006, it is a fine show with four Mozart pieces (Symp. No. 35 “Haffner”, Symp. No. 36 “Linz”, Piano Concerto No. 22 and Horn Concerto No. 1) making for a solid show throughout.  This is up to what I have come to expect form Barenboim Blu-ray releases and it is a recommended as much as any of his Blu-rays as a starting point for his overall work.



Sergiu Celibidache conducts Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 in this 1992 taping that has taken a 4 X 3/1.33 X 1 source and upscaled it to 16 X 9 in ways that show its flaws and limits (was this early HD or analog PAL or SECAM video), but it is an historic show and I can see why it would be reissued in this upscaled edition.  Don’t expect a great picture, but it is passable and could have been included in both aspect ratios, especially since the bonus documentary is 1.33 X 1.  This is our first Bruckner Blu-ray and I hope we see more.



Die 12 Cellisten is a concert but also an anniversary documentary that shows 12 of the top players of the Cello in all the world play music by 17 different composers from Piazzolla, Faure and Debussy to Thelonious Monk, Michel Legrand, Ennio Morricone and The Beatles.  A nice show and tribute to their art and music, the 12 players are Ludwig Quandt, Martin Lour, Olaf Maninger, Richard Duven, Rachel Helleur, Christoph Igelbrink, Solene Kermarrec, Stephan Koncz, Martin Menking, David Riniker, Nikolaus Romisch, Dietmar Schwalke and Knut Weber.  This too is a true event captured well and worth going out of your way for.



Conductor Herbert Blomstedt delivers a Bach/Beethoven Blu-ray show with Bach’s religious Mass in B Minor and offers Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Elias Opus 70 in between that and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, which will remind more people of Horror films than anything saintly.  Another good show, Blomstedt is a capable conductor and I hope we see more of his work soon.



This is the second version of Verdi’s Falstaff we have covered on Blu-ray, this time with Daniele Gatti with The Zurich Opera House.  It is pretty much the equal of the London Philharmonic Orchestra/Glyndebourne Chorus Blu-ray we covered at this link:




The only thing this new version can boast is looking better, though I might have liked the costumes a bit more on the older release.  Otherwise, it is a toss-up between the two versions.



Dubbed a Tribute to Frederick The Great (300 years on his birth), Flute Concertos At Sanssouci is the best-sounding release on the list, plus has as terrific a performance as any here, which says something because we have some good shows here.  Recorded October 16, 2011, Emmanuel Pahud plays the flute and conductor Trevor Pinnock plays the harpsichord.  It is not a one-note, one-instrument show by any means and gives new nuance and perspective on the flute, as well as music that brings out the best in it.  I really liked this one.



Kent Nagano delivers Mozart’s Idomeneo in what is one of only two vocal releases this time around and the first time we have ever covered this particular work about war, royalty, betrayal and class division was recorded June 11 & 14, 2008 in Munich at the restored Cuvillies Theater with stage director Dieter Dorn and impresses throughout.  It makes for a fine introduction to the work and is a first class presentation all the way.



Bryan Pezzone: Piano Pieces is one of the few Blu-ray 3D classical releases to date, but not a bad one, yet the music by Mozart, Schubert, Elgar and even original work by the pianist is not that engaging or adds up to something more exciting.  Part of the problem is that this only lasts 65 minutes and the other is it is a little too laid back for its own good.  Still, it is nicely recorded, but not exceptionally so despite the claim of sonics shown off.  It makes for an interesting alternate solo concert disc for those interested at its best.



Finally we have Charles Gounod’s Romeo Et Juliette with Arena Di Verona offering as five-part alternative opera version of the Shakespeare classic (though The Bard is never noted on the cover!) and though not very memorable, is at least always interesting, ambitious and different from the Tchaikovsky interpretation.  Recorded August 2011, it is very Italian, nicely done and one that may impress others more than it did me.  However, the sound was an issue, but more on that in a moment.



The 1.78 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Pezzone is amusing, but there is not much difference between it and its 2D version, which are both just fine for playback, but nothing to get excited about.  The only similar Blu-ray 3D titles like it is a Blu-ray 3D by pianist Lang Lang (reviewed elsewhere on this site) which I liked a little more.  The rest of the Blu-rays feature 2D 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image presentation with some detail limits and motion blur, but the Bruckner Blu is the poorest performer here with less sharpness, more motion blur and color limits I was not expecting.


Pezzone has several audio options including two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes: the decent Stage option and better Audience option.  A combination of both in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is not as good as either and a PCM 2.0 96/24 Stereo mix may be warmer, but no match for either TrueHD mix.  Falstaff and Flute have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 mixes, with Flute being the sonic winner here with exceptional range, fidelity and is an all-around excellent recording.  The Bruckner Blu is obviously the oldest recording here and only available in PCM 2.0 48/24 Stereo, but it is nicely recorded, but is such a good show, you’ll miss the 5.0 or 5.1 option.  Then you have Blomstedt listed as having PCM 2.0 Stereo and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but that is to the detriment of the disc as the PCM is joined by a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that no compressed Dolby Digital could match.  Having a DTS logo alone and small on the back does not help the error either.


That leaves Barenboim, Cellisten, Idomeneo and Romeo as having the common options of PCM 2.0 Stereo and superior DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, though Romeo disappoints more than expected overall sonically.


Extras in all nine releases include a nicely illustrated booklet on each program with informative text and tech information.  It is also the only extra on Romeo.  Falstaff, Flute and Idomeneo, while Pezzone adds a tech section on how it was recorded, the sonics of it all and gives you a playback test option for your home theater system in Dolby TrueHD.  Barenboim adds trailers and A Cultural Portrait Of Prague featurette, Bruckner adds trailers and the Wolfgang Becker documentary A Triumphant Return, Cellisten adds trailers and the Enrique Sanchez Lansch documentary Die 12 – The 12 Cellists and Blomstedt adds trailers and three “films” on Bach.  All in all, that’s some good bonus material.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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