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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Concert > Opera > Drama > Comedy > Brahms: The Complete Symphonies/Hengelbrok (2016/Unitel)/Beethoven/Blomdstedt (2016/Accentus Music)/Mahler 8: Lucerne Festival Orchestra - Riccardo Chailly/Feudel (2016/Accentus Music)/Rimsky-Korsakov

Brahms: The Complete Symphonies/Hengelbrok (2016/Unitel)/Beethoven/Blomdstedt (2016/Accentus Music)/Mahler 8: Lucerne Festival Orchestra - Riccardo Chailly/Feudel (2016/Accentus Music)/Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel - Matison (2016/Marinnsky Blu-ray w/DVD)/Gustavo Dudamel - Los Angeles Philharmonic: Tango Under the Stars (2016/C Major)/Verdi: Otello (2015/Dynamic)/Verdi: Otello (2016/Unitel/C Major/all Naxos Blu-ray releases)

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

Brahms: The Complete Symphonies

Brahms fans will want to check out this new Blu-ray with an amazing performance by Thomas Hengelbrok and The NDR Elbphilarmonie Orchester. Recorded in Hamburg Germany in 2016, this is a great way to save a ton of money on a plane ticket to see them in person or to relive it again if you were fortunate enough to see them. This disc continues in Unitel's tradition of delivering nicely photographed performances in high definition with great sound mixes as well.

The disc features:

Symphony No. 1 Op.68

Symphony No. 2 Op.73

Symphony No. 3 Op. 90

Symphony No. 4 Op. 98

Presented in 1080i with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding PCM Stereo & DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound mixes, the audio is a bit stronger than some of the visual moments here, but both are passable. Some moments have a slight motion blur that wouldn't have been as apparent if the transfer was in 1080p, alas most viewing at home won't notice too much. There's an array of subtitles on the disc as well depending on your territory.

Special Features...

Discovering Brahms with Thomas Hengelbrok (43 minutes)

Color insert booklet


Ludwig Von Beethoven's classic sixth symphony is one of the iconic composer's most notable works and is captured here brilliantly by Herbert Blomstedt. Recorded live at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig in 2016, this HD performance is on par with the previous disc in terms of home video presentation and up to standards. The feature is directed by Ute Feudel and produced by Paul Smaczny.

The disc features...

Symphony No. 6

F major op. 68 ''Pastoral''

Symphony No. 7

A major Op. 92

Presented in full HD 1080ip and a standard 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the performance looks fine but sounds better with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix and a vivid, lossless PCM 2.0 Stereo track that brings the orchestra to life in your living room.

The only extra is an insert booklet that serves as a program to the performance.

Mahler 8: Lucerne Festival Orchestra - Riccardo Chailly

This feature length 8th symphony by Gustav Mahler lands on Blu-ray disc courtesy of Lucerne Festival and highlights this inaugural performance that was captured at the Lucerne Festival in 2016. Conducted by Riccardo Chailly, some of the magnificent musicians behind this performance include Ricarda Merbeth, Juliane Banse, Anna Lucia Richter, Sara Mingardo, Mihoko Fujimura, Andreas Schager, Peter Mattei, and Samuel Youn. They are accompanied by Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Latvian Radio Choir, Orfeon Donostiarra, and Tolzer Knabenchor.

The program consists of solelt of Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major.

This region 0 disc features a 1080i high definition transfer and a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation similar to the other titles listed. The sound mix is magnificent, and obviously best if played loudly, in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 and lossless PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks.

The only Special Feature is a thick insert booklet that serves as a program to the performance.

Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel

This new production of Rimsky-Korsakov's final opera and has both live action and CGI elements in this production and is a very interesting opera to say the least. Directed by Anna Matison, the opera tells the story of Tsar Doyon, who receives a mystical Golden Cockerel from an Astrologer. This is soon found by his love for a Queen who joins with the Astrologer in making Tsar's life anything but easy.

Filmed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the show is a production by State Academic Mariinsky Theatre and features Vladimir Feliaurer, Andrei Ilyusknikov, Vladislav Sulimsky, and others.

The HD transfer on the disc is mastered in 1080i high definition transfer with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 24-bit lossless PCM 2.0 Stereo track on the Blu-ray. A DVD version is also included in standard definition with a more compressed image that isn't as pretty as the Blu-ray, though it could have been bested by a 1080p transfer. The PCM stereo mix is compressed on the DVD as well. Still, it is nice to have both versions in this set. The program clocks in around 112 minutes in length.

The only Special Feature is a collectible booklet.

Gustavo Dudamel Los Angeles Philharmonic: Tango Under the Stars

For decades, The Hollywood Bowl has been one of the greatest venues in America to view live music and has been home to many different genres and some of the most popular performers of all time. This Blu-ray gets you a front row set at the bowl to witness this incredible orchestral showcase that isn't to be missed. Featuring Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, the show features...

Astor Piazzolla (Tangazo, La Muerte Del Angel, Adios Nonino, Oblivion, and Libertango)

Lalo Schifrin (Concerto For Guitar and Orchestra No. 2 - Concierto de la Amistad World Premiere)

Alberto Ginastera (Four Dances From Estancia)

Some featured performers include Angel Romero (Guitar), Seth Asarnow (Bandoneon), and Tango Burenos Aires. The show is directed by Michael Beyer and produced by Bernhard Fleischer.

The show is presented, like the others, in 1080i high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the presentation here is up to standards and not bad. Some of the musicians are wearing whites, while one is wearing a particularly horrid looking colored shirt. Still the fidelity on the sound mix is fine and the overall image isn't terrible, save some purple tints that are due to the stage lighting.

Special Features...

Interviews with Gustavo Dudamel, Lalo Schifrin, and Angel Romero

Collectible Booklet

and we conclude with two different performances of a classic issued at the same time...

Verdi: Otello/Dynamic

A co-production of the Festival Castell de Peralada and the Macerata Opera Festival, Otello (Giuseppe Verdi) is an Opera presented in four acts and features a libretto by Arrigo Boito and an edition by Casa Ricordi and Milano.

The opera is highly cinematic with very cool lighting and sets that mimic the look of a thunderstorm. The reflections of waves in the ocean reflect off the set and behind it as well, as the superb cast lend their voices to his moving and grand vision.

The Opera stars Stuart Neill (Otello), Jessica Nuccio (Desdemonda), Roberto Frontali (Jago), and Davide Giusti. The show was the winner of the Campoamor Prize for the best production of 2015. Also on the crew is talented set designer Paco Azorin and conductor Riccardo Frizza, who has been acknowledged by many as one of today's finest interpreters of Italian opera.

Presented in 1080i/60 with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a PCM Stereo 2.0/DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the opera presentation on Blu-ray is fine looking, save a little bit of motion blur here and there. The opera is sang in beautiful Italian with subtitles on the disc in English, Italian, French, and more. The total running time is 145 minutes.

The only Special Feature is a color insert booklet with linear notes and a program

Verdi: Otello/Unitel

A similar performance of Otello, this time in C Major, is also landing on disc courtesy of Unitel. Performing at the Salzburg Easter Festival, this eye-opening performance doesn't as sets or costumes quite as impressive as the former Blu-ray release covered above, but is still beautiful to watch and listen to.

The cast includes Jose Cura (Otello), Dorothea Roschmann (Desdemona), Carlos Álvarez (Iago), Benjamin Bernheim (Cassio), Christa Mayer (Emilia), Georg Zeppenfeld (Lodovico), Csaba Szegedi (Montano), and Gordon Bintner (Herald).

Presented in 1080i with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a PCM 2.0 Stereo track and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the opera sounds a bit better than it looks on Blu-ray, but is by no means bad. Directed by Tiziano Mancini, the disc features subtitles in various languages and a total running time of 147 minutes.

The only Special Feature is a color insert booklet with linear notes and a program.

Two great performances that are both similar and different, Opera fans won't want to miss these.

- James Lockhart



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