Ciro In Babilonia (Rossini/Crutchfield/Opus Arte/Unitel Classica)/Duo W: Entendre (Sono Luminus w/CD)/Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera (aka A Masked Ball/Leipziger Ballet/EuroArts)/La Fanciulla Del West (Puccini/Morandi/EuroArts/Unitel Classica)/Mozart: Requiem (Abbado/Accentus/Naxos
B- (No image on Entendre) Sound: B/B+ (CD: B)/B+/B/B Extras: C+ (C: Entendre) Main Programs:
the latest Classical Music releases with both High Definition sound and picture…
with Ciro In Babilonia, a Gioachino Rossini
work we have never covered before in a terrific version from the Opus
Arte/Unitel Classica label conducted by Will Crutchfield from the Rossini Opera
Festival. Davide Livermore directs Ewa
Podles, Jessica Pratt, Michael Spyres, Mirco Palazzi and a solid cast in this
tale of the warrior Cyrus/Ciro and Baldasarre/Belshazzar’s feast and the
conflicts between the two men, et al, from the Book Of Daniel in the Holy
twist here is that the performance starts as an audience watches silent black
and white films in a cinema of the 1920s, whose block-style, monochromatic
images start to come alive off the screen in color, surround and with living
people as reference to Biblical Epics both silent and in large frame formats
(70mm, VistaVision) that celebrates the genre beyond film. This is a very clever approach done
beautifully, authentically, effectively, lavishly and in a way that helps give
the deeper irony of the situation of conflict between the three Semite
religions of today additional depth.
all-audio Classical release in a while is Duo
W: Entendre which features the duo of cellist Meta Weiss and violinist
Arianna Warsaw-Fan playing a wide variety of instrumental pieces that mix
newer, lesser-known composers (Zolan Kodaly, Johan Halvorsen, Adrien-Francois
Servais and Herbert Leonard) with well known work by John Philip Sousa (joined
by Bruce Dukov on Stars & Stripes
Forever) and Maurice Ravel’s Sonata
for Violin and Cello.
It is as
well played as it is well recorded and many who love this music will be
impressed by the sonics of the recording, while those bored by this music will
find this moiré exciting than similar performances and recordings thereof. The duo is very proficient for their youth
and we’ll likely be seeing and hearing more from them soon.
Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in
maschera (aka A Masked Ball) is only the second
version of this work we have covered, here with Leipziger Ballet from EuroArts
and it is pretty good, but our first version was from no less than Teatro Real
and The Royal Opera House, which we covered at this link:
liked that one slightly more, but very narrowly as both are strong
interpretations. The Leipzig Opera and
Conductor Riccardo Chailly deliver their own top rate version of the Verdi work
and it could be argued that this work has not been recorded enough. Fans might want to get both to compare, but
no one will be disappointed by either.
It is the
same case with La Fanciulla Del West,
the bold Puccini work this time with Conductor Giorgio Morandi and issued by
EuroArts/Unitel Classica. The first
version we looked at and liked was a Carlo Rizzi version from Opus Arte with
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra directed on stage by Nikolaus Lehnhoff
that we covered here where I stated my thoughts on the work:
liked that version quite a bit, this one is almost as good and the touch of
recreating what looks like Spaghetti Western films could have been a disaster
and made this look stupid and amateurish in the worst way as so many bad films
in the last 15 years (save Tarantino’s Django
Unchained, which actually understood the cycle) could have backfired. Instead, it adds to the originality of
approach, ambition and fun of this version with The Royal Swedish Opera House
with the Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra.
Stemme, John Lundgren and Aleksandrs Antonenko are among those directed by
Christof Lai on stage and Hannes Rossacher for HD. Nice!
it is remarkable, but for all the Mozart we have covered over the years, we
have never covered Mozart: Requiem until
now, but now in an hour with no less than Conductor Claudio Abbado waving the
wand, we get an instantly definitive version including the Lucerne Festival
Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Choir, Swedish Radio Choir, Anna Prohaska, Sara
Mingardo, Maximilian Schmitt and René Pape delivering the entire piece.
this might not be the most upbeat work and is more explicitly religious than
many a Classical work, but as far as the text goes, it is solid and is about as
good as moist of the Abbado works we have raved about on this site, which you
can find by simply entering his name in our search engine. Fans of the written work itself will be most
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all Blu-rays but Entendre, which only has a menu being an all-audio release, have
fine color images, but also run into minor, tiny staircasing and tiny detail
issues. Color can be less impressive in
shots and we get crushed Video Black in other shots, but these are all shot
well enough and of course, Ciro and West have faux motion picture footage
degraded to look like slightly worn film prints, so those flaws are intended.
Entendre is one of the two sonic champions
with a Blu-ray that offers three audio options: DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 96/24
lossless surround, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 192/24 lossless surround and PCM
2.0 192/24 lossless Stereo. They all
sound really good, are very well recorded and have exceptional clarity, depth
and range that will not disappoint. Even
the PCM 16.44.1 2.0 Stereo on the CD is clearer than you usually get in that
Ciro has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless
surround that could potentially sound weaker than its LFE/.1 subwoofer-able
rivals, but it is a very naturalistic recording with a smooth sound whose
surrounds are very pleasant and seamless.
Of the remaining Blu-rays, all with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless
surround mixes, Masked is the best
performer and is only matched by Entendre
for exceptional recording quality, though West
and Requiem can more than hold their
own. All the Blu-rays also offer PCM 2.0
Stereo that sounds fine, but is no match for their DTS-MA counterparts.
all five releases include the usual text-rich, partly illustrated booklets on
their programs and music history, though the booklet in Entendre is a little thinner.
All but Entendre also offer trailers
for other Classical Blu-rays save Ciro,
which only has a Cast Gallery.