Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Strings > Multi-Channel Music > Orchestra > Opera > Drama > Comedy > Ball > Amp III: Finest Music Components (2005 w/Leonidas Kavakos, violin/Top Music/Intermusic S.A. Hybrid Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD w/CD layer)/Ballet Du Capitole (2017 Opus Arte DVD Compilation Set)/Berlioz

Amp III: Finest Music Components (2005 w/Leonidas Kavakos, violin/Top Music/Intermusic S.A. Hybrid Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD w/CD layer)/Ballet Du Capitole (2017 Opus Arte DVD Compilation Set)/Berlioz: Beatrice et Benedict (2016/Opus Arte Blu-ray)/The Golden Age: Bolshoi Ballet (2016/BelAir Blu-ray)/The Incredible Latin Guitar Of Sergio Lava: Hi-Fi Guitar (2014)/London Double Bass Sound (2015 w/Gary Karr & Geoffrey Simon/Top Music/Intermusic S.A. Hybrid Super Audio CDs)/A Midsummer Night's Dream: Royal Swedish Ballet (2016/BelAir Blu-ray)/Mr. Gaga (2015/Icarus DVD)/Carol Rosenberger: Dynamic Piano/Beethoven (2003)/Starker Plays Kodaly: King Of The Cellists (2004/Top Music/Intermusic S.A. Hybrid Super Audio CDs)/Verdi: Il Trovatore (2017/Dynamic Blu-ray)/Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (2004/TDK/ArtHaus DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: All Top Music Super Audio CDs have links for track listing and a path to order each release, available from our friends at Intermusic with technical performance at the end of this text for all six releases.

We start with Amp III: Finest Music Components: Acoustic Arts (2005), part of a series of demonstration discs Top Music has made in conjunction with high end electronic component makers. This 12 track set includes works by Debussy, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Paganini and Schubert, with Leonidas Kavakos on violin. This is as good as the other tie-in demo SA-CDs we've covered from the label in the past (note other products like cords, et al, are also noted to you know the high quality materials used for recording snd transfer, making it a great reference and resource of this) and its great to always hear top quality work from people who love music and its sound reproduction at its highest level.

You can find out more at this link...


The new Ballet Du Capitole Opus Arte DVD compilation set is a 3-disc set offering Le Corsaire, La Bete et la Belle (aka Beauty & The Beast) and La Reine Morte, three ballets from Kader Belarbi are now available in this collectible three disc DVD set (which is also available on Blu-ray). If you can't afford to go to all the shows or take a flight to see one, this is the next best thing and not unlike what is being screened in HD projection in select movie theaters. Each of these programs are video recorded nicely and give you a front row seat. Featuring performances by the Toulouse Capitol Ballet and the Ballet du Capitole, casts include:


The Slave-girl - Maria Gutierrez

The Corsair - Davit Galstyan

The Sultan - Takafumi Watanabe

The Sultan's Favourite Concubine - Juliette Thelin

The Corsair's Companion - Demian Vargas

Two Slaves - Juliana Bastos / Julie Loria

The Wealthy Slave-trader - Henrik Victorin

Two Guards - Cedric Pons / Joel Sitbon


The Beast - Takafumi Watanabe

Beauty - Julie Loria

Toroador - Kazbek Akhmedyarov


King Ferrante - Artjom Maksakov

Dona Ines de Castro - Maria Gutierrez

Don Pedro - Davit Galstyan

The Infanta - Juliette Thelin

The programs are presented in anamorphically enhanced standard definition with 1.77:1 widescreen aspect ratios and LPCM 2.0 Stereo tracks, which are the best that this format can handle. As mentioned above, the set is also available in HD on Blu-ray if you are looking for a slightly sharper and better sounding presentation.

Special Features include Cast Galleries and you can find out more about the stories in pervious coverage of these classics performed elsewhere on this site.

Berlioz: Beatrice et Benedict (2016) is an award winning opera (Presto Recordings of the Year Finalist 2017 and BBC Music Magazine's September 2017 Opera Choice), is a French adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing though reimagined as a comical opera piece. It's turned a lot of heads in the Opera community so worth checking out if you're a fan or if you're into Shakespeare.

The cast includes Stephanie d'Oustrac (Beatrice), Paul Appleby (Benedict), Philippe Sly (Claudio), Sophie Karthauser (Hero), Lionel Lhote (Somarone), Frederic Caton (Don Pedro) & Katarina Bradic (Ursule).

The show features music by London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus with Antonello Manacorda and is directed by Laurent Pelly.

Presentation on the disc is in 1080i with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a LPCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless tracks as well. As is common with 1080i presentations, the transfer isn't anything too mind blowing but serves this performance well.

Special Features include...

Program Booklet

Cast Gallery

Berlioz Beatrice et Benedict - Rediscovering a Masterwork

Switching to the ballet world, The Golden Age (2016, a complete ballet in two acts) lands on Blu-ray disc courtesy of BelAir Media in HD and was taped in Autumn 2016, a few months prior to Yuri Grigorovich's 90th birthday.

Featuring the Corps de Ballet & Orchestra of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia and Pavel Klinichev. Choreography by Yuri Grigorovich, Sets and costumes Simon Virsaladze, and lighting by Mikhail Sokolov.

The show is a love story between Rita (a cabaret dancer) and Boris (an idealistist) around the Golden Age of dance by the new generation of the Bolshoi Ballet, including Nina Kaptsova and Mikhail Lobukhin.

Presented in 1080i high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2.0 PCM Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes. The presentation here is fine for this showcase, attempting to make you feel as if you are a member of the audience. Some details aren't as clean as they would be in 1080p but that comes with the format.

No special features just an Insert program book.

The Incredible Latin Guitar Of Sergio Lava: Hi-Fi Guitar (2014) lives up to its name with 13 strong tracks and the performances to back them up. I did not recognize any of the songs by name and only a few by listening to them, so it was a great change of pace I appreciated an d played with the kind of heart and soul you expect. The 'Hi-Fi' part is ironic since that term is sadly from another era (the 1950s to early 1960s in particular), but it still means high quality and that is what Mr. Lava delivers. Those interested should check out more about this release at this link...


London Double Bass Sound (2015) is the on recording where the sonics were a bit limited, but that does not stop this album from this set of 15 songs. Gary Karr joins conductor Geoffrey Simon on 3 of the tracks, which are highlights, though performances (without Karr) of The Beatles' When I'm 64 and even The Spice Girls Wannabe might be more than a bit much for some listeners. They fare better with older standards, jazz, pop and showtune.

You can find out more at this link...


This powerful and offbeat performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream (2016) reimagined by Alan Ekman as a ballet is an interesting and beautifully constructed piece that lovers of the art form won't want to miss. Eloquently designed with beautiful costumes and set pieces, the show is jaw dropping and interesting to say the least.

Featuring music by Mikael Karlsson and the Royal Swedish Orchestra and vocals by Swedish pop singer Anna Von Hausswolff.

The darkly stylized performance features lots of hay, a giant fish, a hanging, and hypnotic choreography. This bizarre interpretation is definitely a sight to behold.

Presented in 1080i with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a PCM 2.0 Stereo track and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix, the presentation is up to standards and gives you a clean presentation throughout on Blu-ray disc.

Special Features...

17 minute featurette

Insert Booklet

For theater and Dance fans here is a bio-documentary feature for you. Mr. Gaga (2015) features intimate rehearsals and breathtaking dance sequences, all of which highlight the life and career of Ohad Naharin, Israeli choreographer and artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company.

The film showcases how fluid and smooth dance can be in a mesmerizing manner. Obsessed with perfection, Naharin's choreography is stunning to say the least with acclaim from actress Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and others who have worked for and know him well.

The film is directed by Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, Who's Gonna Love Me Now?).

Presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track in Hebrew with English subs. The film is beautifully made so it's a shame that it isn't presented in 1080p at this time. There is a mix or archival footage and stage footage with mostly black backgrounds.

Special Features...

20 minutes of BTS footage

Archival Performance Footage

Video Interviews.

Carol Rosenberger: Dynamic Piano: Beethoven (2003) delivers two pieces by the legend, delivered nicely by Miss Rosenberger in their pure piano form. Some may want more grandiose Beethoven, but these are still very well played and not easy to play, so the seeming simplicity is just her remarkable grasp and love of these pieces. With so many such CDs on the market, this manages to easily stand out.

Find out more about it at this link...


Starker Plays Kodaly: King Of The Cellists (2004) for at last most of the time (the first track is actually Paganini), but again, the superior fidelity of the recording and format in this case really shows the high quality and heart of the cello and the man playing it (joined on violin by Joseph Gingold) making for a high class experience in pure music you'll be likely to enjoy. In SA-CDs higher definition, its like being at a concert or private performance.

For more on this release, here's the link...


Dating back to the 1800s, the infamous opera Verdi: Il Trovatore (2017) is for the grandest of voices only and has been well regarded as a difficult piece to tackle. However, with this remarkable cast which includes Anna Pirozzi (Leonora), Enkelejda Shkosa (Azucena), Piero Pretti (Manrico), Marco Caria (Il Conte di Luna), and Alessandro Spina (Ferrando), the show is a must see for opera fans on disc.

The show is conducted by Daniel Oren and directed by Francisco Negrin and was recorded live at the Sferisterio theatre of Macerata in the summer of 2016 during their opera festival.

As for the technical specs, there's a 1080i/60 high definition transfer with a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 and both a PCM Stereo 2.0 Italian track and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes as well. There are subtitles on the disc in various languages. Overall, a decent presentation however there are some motion blur and grain evident in some moments.

Special Features... Insert program booklet.

And finally, you can relax from a stressful day with this beautifully photographed journey into the classical music realm. Conducted by Claudio Scimone is the Italian Baroque concerti Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (2004, aka Le quattro Stagioni) was taped at the Venetian Villas (with was designed by Pallaio and other famous architects), the performance cuts back and forth between the orchestral performance and breathtaking surroundings of the Villas throughout the years.

While it would most certainly shine in HD, we are just reviewing the DVD standard definition version at this time, which has an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and a PCM stereo track, both of which are of high quality for the aging format.

Special Features...

Claudio Scimone on ''The Four Seasons'': Explaining the music, its history and sources

Insert Program Booklet

The Super Audio CDs are all available with a choice of two sets of tracks each here (three tracks overall on some releases), the simplest of which are the PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo tracks that allow the discs to be 'hybrid' and play on all CD players. They sound fine and about the same in each case, but like most regular CDs, the sound's sonic ceiling is limited and obvious. So that brings us to the 'Super' part and is so great, its worth having a player for it.

In what we now refer to as Ultra High Definition sound, DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is the Rolls Royce of High Resolution audio, though I think DTS: X and Dolby Atmos are just fine, they are still PCM-based and are made up of many bits. DSD is a single bit that is gigantic and oversampled 2.8 million times, so it actually plays more naturally than any other digital audio format at its best and is equal to the all the best analog formats (including heavy audiophile vinyl) out there.

Besides at least delivering 2.0 sound, it can deliver up to 5.1 tracks of music. All six of our SA-CD entries have all three tracks, rated from highest (5.1, not available in these cases unfortunately) to second best (DSD Stereo) to plain CD sound. Save sonic limits from the London recording, the 2.0 Stereo DSD on the other 5 SA-CDs are the sonic champs here with remarkable sound reproduction with demo replay-ability and if you add an SA-CD capable player to your home theater system (a nice number of Blu-ray and DVD players handle the format, plus some older Playstation 3 models), it will challenge and push your system further in a better direction. There is also a solid, still-growing library of titles (many reviewed elsewhere on this site) and serious music fans who aren't aware of the format or still considering should try it out. You won't be disappointed!

Extras include booklets with information on each respective SA-CD release, much like most SA-CDs, but that's more than you get these days on many CDs, DVDs and even Blu-rays.

- Nicholas Sheffo (SA-CDs) & James Lockhart



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com