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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical > Ballet > Biography > Filmmaking > Politics > Symphonic > Pop > Harmonica > Harp > Chaplin/Schroder ballet/Delibes' Coppelia/Lao (EuroArts)/Don Quixote/Acousta/Royal Opera House/Royal Ballet (Opus Arte)/The Mature Symphony [No. 7]/Bruckner/Barenboim (Accentus/Unitel Classica)/Max Ra

Chaplin/Schroder ballet/Delibes' Coppelia/Lao (EuroArts)/Don Quixote/Acousta/Royal Opera House/Royal Ballet (Opus Arte)/The Mature Symphony [No. 7]/Bruckner/Barenboim (Accentus/Unitel Classica)/Max Raabe & Palast Orchester (EuroArts/Naxos Blu-rays)/Hand To Mouth: Mickey Raphael/Sound Of Harp II: Music From Heaven - Silke Auchhorn (Top Music 24K Gold UQCDs)

Picture: B-/B-/B/B-/C+/X/X Sound: B-/B-/B/B/C+/B/B Extras: C/C/C+/C/C+/X/X Main Programs: B-/B-/B/B-/B-/B-/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Raphael and Harp 24K Gold UQCDs will play on all CD players and can be ordered exclusively from our friends at Top Music at the link below.

Now for a strong cycle of classical releases...

We start with a new take on the great Charles Chaplin. Chaplin is not another retelling of the story of the man and artist, but an impressive ballet about the legendary, groundbreaking filmmaker that runs a nice 100 minutes and is more savvy than expected with fine dancing, iconic images and the politics he eventually had to deal with. Mario Schroder wrote this work and clearly gets what the man and his art was about.

Here is a new version of Delibes' Coppelia that is not bad, but handled by different talents than one we looked at before. Eduardo Lao choreographed this nice ballet of Leo Delibes' Coppelia based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann book Der Sandmann taped in Madrid. A Swiss clockmaker makes three androids so convincingly human, some think he is using black magic. Though this version is good, I found this earlier Blu-ray release with Patrice Bart choreography a little better:


The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House present a new version of Don Quixote. Carlos Acousta's well choreographed ballet interpretation of the classic story is given vibrant life as this cast (with great costumes and chemistry) gives us the story of the man and the windmill he must slay with nice stage design, Acousta himself as Bastilo, Christopher Sanders in the title role and Martin Yates conducting the fine score. The makers totally grasp the material and it is worth your time to catch it.

Bruckner's The Mature Symphony: Symphony No. 7 is our sole instrumental entry on the list. The great Daniel Barenboim is back conducting Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E Major in yet another solid classical orchestra performance on Blu-ray, but this one only runs 72:20, yet is the complete work. This is still in line with the many fine Barenboim Blu-rays we have covered before, as well as fine performances of Bruckner we've been lucky enough to encounter. We previously covered an historic performance of the 7th Symphony as performed by Sergiu Celibidache at this link:


Our final Blu-ray is as interesting as the rest. Max Raabe & Palast Orchester performs a good number of classic tunes from the 1920s and 1930s, especially German (you'll feel like you're watching Cabaret at times) plus a few originals by Raabe (looking like Taco without the white make-up) and backed by a very capable band. We get 32 songs during the 115 minutes, though even the booklet included does not give us translations for the non-English titles and I do not think that helps the viewer or fan. This was taped in 2006 when Raabe and his band had turned 20.

Hand To Mouth: Mickey Raphael is the first of our 24K Gold CDs and offers an interesting collection of 12 tracks where Mr. Raphael plays the harmonica in expert fashion. His take on If I Only Had A Brain and Somewhere Over The Rainbow as a medley was mixed (all songs are accompanied by other instruments), but I really enjoyed 246 West 11th Street, Asia Minor, Mexico - Co and Gypsy. The album is a very pleasant surprise overall and serious music fans should check this one out.

Finally we have Sound Of Harp II: Music From Heaven by Silke Auchhorn, a sequel to the strong first album we reviewed at this link:


The 14 new performances include Bach, 2 Handel classics, Tchaikovsky, Schubert and though it is 4 songs less than the previous release, my only minor complaint is that the collection simply does not have the impact of the last set, as good as it is. However, it shows off the harp and Miss Auchhorn's talents to great effect and a worthy sequel just the same.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Quixote and Mature should be a little better than the 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the rest of the Blu-rays, but only Quixote stands out among the five releases while Raabe is particularly rough and slightly strained at times with more motion blur than the others, all of which have some.

All five Blu-ray releases offer PCM 2.0 Stereo, but only four have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, leaving Coppelia a rare classical Blu-ray release without a discrete surround track, but not the poorest sonic performer here. Quixote and Mature are the sonic champs with the best recordings and use of 5.1 surround, but it is Raabe that is the sonic disappointment also a bit harsh at the edges and not as naturalistic and open as on would like. The PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on the two Gold CDs are fine and of the high quality expected from this series.

Extras include booklets on each respective show with informative text, while each Blu-ray disc adds trailers for four more such Blu-ray releases, save Quixote with Cast/Crew Interviews and intros for Act II & III and Raabe with a Photo Album covering China & Berlin and three clips covering New York, Japan and Rome.

You can order the Raphael and Harp 24K Gold UQCDs at this link for all the discs in that series:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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