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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Standards > Piano > Opera > Myth > Romantic Piano Of Giovanni (2014/New Castle Records/Intermusic S.A./Top Music SA-CD/Super Audio CD/SACD)/Richard Strauss' Elektra/Salonen (2013, 2014/Naxos/Bel Air Classiques Blu-ray)

Romantic Piano Of Giovanni (2014/New Castle Records/Intermusic S.A./Top Music SA-CD/Super Audio CD/SACD)/Richard Strauss' Elektra/Salonen (2013, 2014/Naxos/Bel Air Classiques Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Giovanni Import Super Audio CD (with CD-compatible tracks) is only available from our friends at Top Music International and can be ordered from the links below.

We wanted to pair these two classical titles, which introduce us to a new pianist, while revisiting some older works and artists we have previously covered. Romantic Piano Of Giovanni (2014) is yet another solids title from the enduring, independent Intermusic S.A./Top Music International label, this time in the SA-CD/Super Audio CD format. The pianist Giovanni plays mostly original compositions he wrote, plus a few standards and classics to boot. It is an amazing-sounding release, especially if you can lay the SA-CD part (a good number of Blu-ray players (including from Sony) and some PS3 machines can handle the format). Here are the technical specifications on how this disc was produced:

  • Remastered by Povee Chan

  • SADiE Digital Precision Mastering

  • Monitor Power-Amplifier: Lavardin Model IT

  • Mastering Monitor: Audioplan KPNZERT III

  • Power System: Isoclean Power Conditioning System

  • Mastered with Black Rhodium Cable

  • Hybrid Stereo, Plays on all SACD and CD Players

  • Made in Austria by Sony

The songs are as follows, noting the classics by writer:

Puttin' On The Ritz (Irving Berlin)

Paese Mio

Dreaming (R. Schumann)

Anniversary Song (traditional)

Nadia's Theme (Barry DeVorzon/P. Botkin Jr.)

Green Sleeves (traditional)

Gypsie Dance

The Way We Were (The Theme From,/Marvin Hamlisch, Alan & Marilyn Bergman)







All I Know Is You

Ordinary People (J. Pachelbel)

These all-instrumental tracks play very smoothly, offering nice, well-done variants on the older songs and yes, this is the same Giovanni who hosts the successful TV series Giovanni's World Of Music as seen on PBS, et al. He has sold many CDs in a time where sales are down, especially of his genre, but don't be surprised of he is about to get more and more popular. This is a solid album and he will add audiophile fans with this one easily.

A paper pullout with an essay and tech notes is the only extra.

Richard Strauss' Elektra (2013) is the fifth (!) version of the classic version we have covered on Blu-ray, and that does not include other formats. You can read about the previous versions as follows:

As conducted by Daniele Gatti which we reviewed at this link:


Munich Philharmoniker version (which I liked a bit better)


Von Dohnanyi version


Zurich Opera House version (which I also liked a bit better)


The difference here is that we have no less than one of the greatest conductors around, Esa Pekka Salonen, handling this version. He is of the celebrated Bernard Herrmann: The Film Scores, which we reviewed on SA-CD at this link:


This version by stage director Patrice Chereau pairs down the production aspects and puts the opera singers in the middle of a sort of existentialist vacuum so the music is more poignant and isolated. Thanks to Salonen and the cast in part, that works, but the visuals actually were a little too empty for myself and not just because of the previous versions I have seen. What is done is consistent, logical and makes sense, but it was a style that just did not work for me. I expect an audio-only version of this would go over very well among serious opera and classical fans. Now you can see it for yourself.

An booklet with tech information and essays built into the DigiPak case and interview on the Blu-ray disc with Stage Director Patrice Chereau are the extras.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Elektra is our only video presentation, a paired-down stage presentation that can be rough and noisy in spots, but that is the style of the HD shoot and it just earns its rating.

The DSD (Direct Stream Digital, an extremely high definition audio format) 2.0 Stereo on Giovanni is of a new recording that has more than its share of sonically superior moments with very consistent recording throughout and the mastering and mixing are impressive. The PCM 16/44.1 2.0 CD Stereo tracks sound good too, but are no match for the style, warmth or presence of the DSD tracks. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on Elektra are not bad, but the PCM is a little underwhelming, while the DTS has some limits because the space and openness of the singing is recorded for realism. It is an artistic choice that makes sense, but holds things back for me a bit.

To find out more about ordering
Giovanni, start with this link, then go to the HOW TO ORDER tab on the left-hand side column:


The direct order link is:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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