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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Concert > Drama > Politics > Documentary > Admeto: Handel/McGegan (2009/C Major/Unitel Classica)/Mozart: Minkowski (2015/C Major/Unitel Classica)/Poliuto: Donizetti/Mazzola - Glyndebourne (2015/Opus Arte)/Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Three Sided Dream

Admeto: Handel/McGegan (2009/C Major/Unitel Classica)/Mozart: Minkowski (2015/C Major/Unitel Classica)/Poliuto: Donizetti/Mazzola - Glyndebourne (2015/Opus Arte)/Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Three Sided Dream (2014/ArtHaus)/Wozzeck: Berg/Operhaus Zurich/Luisi (2015/Accentus/all Naxos Blu-ray)

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

Now for more Classical & Jazz music releases....

First we have Handel's Admeto (2009) staged by Dorris Dorrie, solo dance and choreography by Tadashi Endo with Conductor Nicholas McGegan and the Festspielorchester Gottinggen delving into the world of the Samurai. We reviewed a 2006 version from the same video label from the Opernhaus Halle at this link...


Now this is a reissue of the same program I reviewed a few years ago at this link...


However, there is one slight difference. Maybe it is just the way it aged or its the new pressing, but the sound here (esp. the 5.1 mix) might not be quite as good as the older pressing. This happens and this was going to be covered by another writer, but when I noticed this, I had to take it on, so that's my one slight critique. If you are sound-obsessed, you might want to get the older pressing, but otherwise, its the same disc. I also think the 2006 version remains slightly better.

Mozart: Piano Concerto K. 488 + K. 219 is the big surprise here because not only are the performances great, the recording of the music is of exceptional fidelity (more on that below in the tech section) that will impress audiophiles not used to video releases being to particularly well recorded. This is not to say the Naxos-distributed labels do not often have great sound; the definitely do, but this one will even surprise them and break the stereotype of video sound standards being below audio-only recording standards.

Recorded from a 2015 performance (Mozart Week in Salzburg), Marc Minkowski conducts with Thibault Noally on violin and Francesco Corti ion fortepiano, this runs only 72 minutes (again, which this were longer) and is one of the best instrumental performances I've seen in a while in any music genre on Blu-ray. If you like this, you must see it.

Donizetti's Poliuto is the tale of a of the title character (Michael Fabiano) as a man in power, turning controversially Catholic, his wife supporting him, but her former lover (with a different religion) turning up to cause trouble and form a triangle that will have political implications. This follows Donizettl works about challenging, memorable individuals like Don Pasquale and Lucrezia Borgia (see elsewhere on this site) so this is in keeping with those releases and works. Presented by the Glyndebourne from 2015 with Enrique Mazzola as conductor, this runs a somewhat long 117 minutes, but it is well-rounded, consistent and pretty good.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Three Sided Dream (2014) is a good, if slightly short documentary biography of the sometimes-controversial and not discussed enough Jazz musician who was part of the counterculture, Civil Rights Movement and great period of the arts on TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Though interviews from those who knew him, some unexpected animation and a very generous, extensive array of film and video clips of his TV appearances and work, plus home movies and the like, this program sets the record well about what he did, achieve and how we lost him too soon. Needless to say the music is constantly impressive and his showmanship is only outdone by his talent and ambition. Definitely worth a look, especially for serious music and history fans.

Finally we have a very interesting entry in Alban Berg's Wozzeck (also recorded in 2015) from the Operhaus Zurich with Fabio Luisi conducting and Christian Gerhaher in the title role of this surreal opera about how dark and ugly the world is and can get. In a smart visual move, the people are made to blend into the background of the stage, all looking aged and like they are part of aged paper, brownish beige with line, agedness and a sense of slight dread visually that makes it seem alive, but with a touch of death, the dead and mortality. That makes it one of the most interesting stage operas visually we’ve seen in a while and to pull this off is not as easy as it looks. And I should add I has nothing to do with the definition of the HD presentation, it is the look itself.

My only issue is that maybe it could have tried to do more with the visually successful situation and made possible further statements about mortality that it is addressing and this can feel longer to watch than usual if the visual style throws you off. Still, ambitious and successful enough in what it pulls off.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Admeto and Mozart have some detail and motion blur issues, but are not that much worse than the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Poliuto and Wozzeck, which have their own detail issues and are only slightly less troubled. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Kirk includes old black & white videotape, color videotape, black & white film, color film and film in old videotape transfers, so this one can show the age of the materials used, but some of the film and even video look pretty good and the new interview segments are shot in HD. Expect some new, simple animation too.

As for sound, Mozart is here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mix, but it is offered at 96/24, sounds really good and is the sonic champ here. The rest of the releases sport DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, with Wozzeck coming in second place for great sound with a fine consistent soundfield and the rest tying for third place. All discs also offer PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes, but none are as good as the DTS versions. Admeto and Poliuto just miss the mark in consistency, but are fine for what they offer, but Kirk offers a wide mix of new simple stereo, old monophonic sound, his recordings at times in fine stereo playback and other audio. Its impressive the mix of sources sound as good as they do.

Extras in all five releases once again include multi-lingual booklets on each respective release, with Wozzeck offering an unusually thick, high quality volume. Admeto adds a Behind The Scenes featurette, Mozart adds two bonus music performances, Poliuto adds a piece in its UK premiere, Cast Gallery and interview with Stage Director Mariame Clement and Kirk adds Bright Moments performed in 1977 and interview with music scholar Joel Dorn on the artists' life.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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