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Category:    Home > Reviews > Jazz > Instrumental > Vocal > Classical > Opera > Musical > Rock > Pop > Concert > The Banda Brothers: Primavera (AIX)/Cherubini/Medée (La Monnaie De Munt/Rousset/Bel Air)/Pergolesi: Il Flaminio + La Salustia (ArtHaus/Unitel Classica)/Rossini: Mose In Egitto (Moses In Egypt/Opus Art

The Banda Brothers: Primavera (AIX)/Cherubini/Medée (La Monnaie De Munt/Rousset/Bel Air)/Pergolesi: Il Flaminio + La Salustia (ArtHaus/Unitel Classica)/Rossini: Mose In Egitto (Moses In Egypt/Opus Arte/Naxos Blu-rays)/Les Miserables – 10th Anniversary Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall (BBC DVD set reissue)/Yardbirds On Tour 2011 – 2012 (Eagle DVDs)


Picture: Blu-rays: B-/DVDs: C+     Sound: B+/B+/B/B+/B/B-/C+     Extras: C+/C/C+/C+/B-/B-/C+     Main Programs: B-/B/B/B/B-/B-/B-



Now for a set of new music releases that offer more surprises and entertainment than usual…



The Banda Brothers: Primavera is a mostly Jazz instrumental concert that lasts under an hour, but sports some great music, musicianship, recording, a nice flow to it all and a title song with vocal by Destani Wolf makes this a first rate release that shows off the act that has been around for 3 decades and counting.  AIX once again comes up with something different and it is a nice change of pace that works and the recording has some demo moments too.



Medée is La Monnaie De Munt version of Medea originally written by Luigi Cherubini performed with great energy by a great cast including Nadja Michael as the title character (looking like Amy Winehouse, as you can see in the cover image above) with exceptional Opera singing all around, atop rate production, Christophe Rousset conducting and a powerful telling of the story equal to the following different (and penned by others) versions on Blu-ray we have enjoyed as follows:


1969 Pasolini/Maria Callas film



Reimann/Grillparzer’s Medea



It is a story worth telling, retelling and recalling, examining and seeing in these different versions, remaining as relevant as ever.  I liked all three very much and wonder if this is the beginning of a cycle.  Let’s hope so.



We have started to look at the operatic works of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi in a series of solid Blu-rays issued by ArtHaus/Unitel Classica and the latest are separate editions of Il Flaminio and La Salustia.  Il Prigioner superbo and La serva padrona was our first time finally covering his work and it was a double feature on one Blu-ray, which you can read more about at this link:





Il Flaminio is a comic romance (debuting in 1735!) as w widow explains her still enduring love for another in what becomes an amusing examination of enduring love and romantic ideals while La Salustia is set in the Third Century A.D. where the wife (the title character) of Roman Emperor Alessandro Severo deals with dysfunctional family issues from her mother-in-law Giulia to the point that Salustia’s father Marziano is ready to kill her to give his daughter peace.  However, minds and situations will change and nothing will work out as expected.


I just wonder why Pergolesi is not more well known these days.  It would be nice if these releases started a trend to revive his great work and acknowledgement that they exist and endure.  These two Blu-rays and the third with the double feature are the perfect crash course introduction to more than correct that.



The great Gioachino Rossini takes on Biblical territory in Mose In Egitto (aka Moses In Egypt) which makes for an interesting, honest and lesser-known telling of the story in Operatic terms that works well enough, but the subject matter is only going to work as far as the interest of the audience is involved in this case as it is a long look at the familiar-enough tale.  You do not have to be religious to enjoy it, but it helps since you have to believe what is happening might be possible.  The makers have gone all out to make this work with great Conductor Roberto Abbado (whose Blu-ray release shave been among the best in the Classical field, as found elsewhere on this site) really delivering the best possible version of the material with a fine cast, but others might still be bored or uninterested.  I was glad to see it because it never makes the tale phony or preachy.



The BBC has reissued their popular DVD version of Les Miserables – 10th Anniversary Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which is the musical version we covered a few years ago at this link:




It holds up well and was recorded in 1995, also more than holding its own against the 2012 theatrical film version and though my fellow writer liked it even more than I did, would recommend it enough.  Especially to those who are interested, you’ll find it a solid capturing of the hit stage version.


For the earlier non-musical 1998 film version on Blu-ray, try this link:






Finally we have The Yardbirds On Tour 2011 – 2012 minus the three guitarists from the original formation of the band, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on hand.  Could this latest version of the band be any good?  Could this work or is this just a new group of musicians using a name to sell tickets they should not be using?  To my surprise, this grouping 45 years after the fact can play and has some energy behind what they are doing, including For Your Love, I’m A Man and Dazed & Confused on the 15-song playlist.  Fans of the music and original band (this configuration does include founder and Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Jim McCarty) will want to give this one a look as this works better than it ought to.


For more on the band, try this link to the DVD The Story Of The Yardbirds:






The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the five Blu-rays have some issued with detail, depth, motion blur and minor refinement, but look good for the kind of shoots that they are.  Mose has some extra issues with darker scenes, but not too much.  With Ultra HD 4K and near-4K shooting ahead, these will start showing their age a little more, even if the definition is 2160p for the next generation of presentation.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image DVDs are not as good, but as good as they are going to get for their formats and I wondered if they would look better on Blu-ray or if too many flaws would show up.


The Dolby TrueHD 96/24 5.1 mix on Banda, plus DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Salustia and Medée are the sonically superior performers here and pleasant surprises throughout.  Salustia impresses with a soundfield as good as any opera we have covered on Blu-ray to date, while Medée has high end range that just does not distort and Banda is simply just another excellent high quality Jazz recording that epitomizes the attention serious artists in the genre give to dynamic range in their work.  There are 5.1 “Stage” and “Audience” options, but I liked “Stage” more, though you can experiment for yourself to see what works best for you, but I liked them more than the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.  Flaminio and Mose also sound really good, but just not as dynamic as the others.  All have PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes for those who prefer them or cannot play the 5.1 mixes.


Both DVDs have lossy Dolby Digital with Les Miz sporting a 2.0 Stereo only mix that decodes nicely in Pro Logic, while Yardbirds has a decent 5.1 mix that sounds better than expected.


As for extras, all seven releases have booklets tied into their programs and all Naxos releases save Barda (with a making of featurette, BD-ROM section, Photo Gallery, Bios, links and 15-minutes Interview piece), Medee (nothing additional) and Mose (with a making of featurette and cast list) have trailers for other Blu-rays.   Les Miz repeats the extras of its older release and Yardbirds has a second DVD with four extra music performances and the Glimpses – The Tour Documentary piece to show the new band today.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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