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
Pezzone: Piano Pieces (AIX Blu-ray 3D w/ Blu-ray 2D)/Gounod’s Romeo Et Juliette/Arena Di Verona (BelAir/Naxos Blu-rays)
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…
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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