Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, V.1
(1958 - 1964/Unitel)/Delibes
Selon Marc/Nach Auschwitz: Levinas
Night's Gala Grafenegg
Fresque: Ballet Preljocaj
Philharmoniker/Kirill Petrenko: Tchaikovsky Symp No. 6 'Pathetique'
w/Blu-ray/all 3 Super Audio CD/all Naxos)
C+/B/B/B/B-/C+/C/X/X/X Sound: B-/B/B/B/B/C+/C+/B+ B B-/B+/A- &
B+ Extras: C/D/C+/C/C+/C+/B-/C+/C/C Music:
latest group of classical music releases includes classics, a
stunning new work and one of the great early music series from U.S.
before there was PBS or Internet, many had a great vision of TV as a
medium to educate everyone and make the world a better place to live
(that died in the 1980s), a great TV series that was also an early
cultural event arrived and ran from 1958 to 1972. Leonard
Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, V.1
includes episodes from 1958 to 1964, on Blu-ray in upscaled
presentations now reissued by Unitel. In a DigiBook case, The New
York Philharmonic was part of every show and each episode asked a
major question or offered a theme about music and the arts, all of
which are as relevant now as ever.
shows are fun, highly encourage audience participation and introduce
many new, young talents while going through all kinds of classics.
Even some name artists show up from singer Marni Nixon to no less
than Aaron Copland! Bernstein even gets to West Side Story on one of
the shows long before it was finally recognized as a classic.
volumes were originally issued and I hope we see the others soon.
for the third version of Delibes'
that we covered following this solid version from the Opus Arte
release choreographed by Patrice Bart (separately featuring a Yutaka
this Eduardo Lao-choreographed version on Blu-ray that took some
risks and not all of them worked, but it was ambitious and made for
tis own decent Blu-ray release.
new 2018 version is from no less than The Bolshoi Ballet issued by
by Sergey Vikharev and is more traditional and is technically the
best in playback and as traditional as any, but it is not totally
superior to the other two overall by any means. Yes, the dancing is
amazing and runs a fine 100 minutes. If anything, all interested
should get all three versions and compare, but it is a fine ballet
and you can see why people want to recreate it in distinctive ways.
more well known is Mozart's Don
which keeps resurfacing in energetic, big productions starting with
this memorable Opus Arte Royal Opera production on Blu-ray that stuck
with many of us at the website...
darker Teatro Real Blu-ray from Madrid more than holds its own...
we have this Unitel Blu-ray edition we even covered earlier on DVD
that also was popular with fans and really endures...
here comes a Unitel/C Major release from 2011 and this time coming
from the Sferisterio Opera Festival choreographed by Roberto Maria
Pizzuto, staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi and conducted by Riccardo Frizza.
It looks as good as any of these versions, except maybe that amazing
Royal Opera version somehow and sounds as good as any of them, but is
direct, traditional and richer like the Bolshoi version. Again, all
involved are all in here and you can feel and and tell for all 174
long minutes. Just be prepared to be awake and rested in advance
before you take it on.
final Blu-ray is a newer opera work by Michael Levinas, rooted in
various biblical sources, to celebrate the 500th
Anniversary of Luther's Reforms. La
Passion Selon Marc
aka A Passion After
conducted by Marc Kissocsz in memory of the six million Jaws killed
in the Holocaust and especially invoking the worst of all the
horrific death camps: Auschwitz.
program runs 87 minutes and the work is not merely religious in a
traditional way or in content, but tends to be more abstract and
challenging than expected, which is a very good thing, stretching
expectation for the better and leaving an artistic mark in very
welcome, striking ways that are honest and trying to say something
different, important and maybe profound. It is one of the best new
works in the field of opera I have heard in a while (limited as my
coverage is) and is worth experiencing.
Calleja, Pretty Yenda and Harriett Krijgh join conductor Yutaka Sado
for Midsummer Night's Gala
delivering 14 classics (including two from Leonard Bernstein) in this
tight, entertaining 76 minutes program (we're certain the evening was
longer) that takes place at the outdoor festival and has a great
audience on what turned out to be a really fine weather night. We
get these programs occasionally and frankly, they are some of the
better ones and I would like to see the companies issue more of them.
People seem to be more willing to enjoy the arts when it is outside.
Nice to see Austria loosen up somewhat as well.
as it is to believe, we have never covered any version of
Shakespeare's Henry IV,
but this 2016 version is with an all-female cast by Phyllida Lloyd
with Harriett Walter in the lead. From the Donmar Warehouse,
they have produced a trilogy of such works by The Bard, they did
in 2012, this two years later and The
Tempest in 2016 (look for
them elsewhere on this site) so it is an event in a sea of highly
competitive revivals of his work and is not pretentious or
repetitive. It can be gender-bending, but not necessarily. Add that
sexism had men playing female roles on stage without gay context for
centuries when women were not allowed on so many stages and you can
see why these are so important.
runs 131 minutes and is worth a look for those interested.
a title that gives you an idea of what kind of program it is, La
Fresque: Ballet Preljocaj
(2017) is a somewhat deconstructionist program running only 77
minutes, but offering some ofd the most interesting and challenging
in this kind of modern dance. Angelin Perljovaj set this up for 10
dancers based on the Chinese tale also known as ''The Painting On The
Wall'' accompanied by Nicolas Godin's music and its a good one worth
to our audio-only releases starting with a single hybrid Super Audio
CD (it as a CD track for older machines) in a fancy thin hardcover
booklet package, Berliner
Philharmoniker with Kirill Petrenko: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6
'Pathetique' (2019) which
we reviewed in a DTS-only CD a very long time ago at this link...
we covered it among many works in this elaborate DVD box set....
new version is impressive enough (the other writer likes the actual
work more than even I do) and it was long overdue for the highest
fidelity version possible for us to revisit. The DVD needs reissued
on Blu-ray, even if the video needs to be upscaled and the DTS CD
version would make an interesting curio today, but thew sonics here
are top rate, above the older versions and this is the one I would
start with first if I needed to get a prerecorded version of this
work. Well done.
conclude with two double Blu-ray/SA-CD sets form the 2L label,
starting with Elisabeth Holte and Kare Nordstoga's Himmelborgen
(2019) that is a religious hymns work consisting of 15 tracks, some
new by them and others classics including one by Brahms and another
by Bach. Not for everyone, but good performances and ultra high
fidelity are the true highlights for me and is the reason non-fans
would want to hear it. Otherwise, for hymn fans only.
then to conclude, there is the exceptionally recorded three part LUX
(2018) with two compositions by Stale Kleiberg and one by Andrew
Smith. We get Biblical references here as well, Catholic in
particular, but these are not hymns and are not as obviously what
they turn out to be. Again, not my kind of music, but nicely done
and audiophiles will be particularly interested in this one.
to the playback performances, the 1080i black and white 1.33 X 1
digital High Definition image from the Bernstein set can show
the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to
all previous releases of the show in the best possible upscale for
the old production that was either kinescoped or on old black and
white NTSC videotape. It even manages to stay just ahead of the full
color, anamorphically enhanced 1.78
X 1 image DVDs here, especially Fresque,
which is softer than usual. For both DVDs and some of the Bernstein
footage, expect analog videotape flaws including video noise, video
banding, tape scratching, cross color issues on the DVDs, faded color
and tape damage.
remaining four Blu-rays, the 1080i
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Gala
disc has a little more motion blur and detail issues than I would
have liked, but the color is fine. Giovanni
has the same kind of presentation, but it is much more stable and
consistent, joining the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image
transfer as two of the most stable regular Blu-rays we have ever seen
issued with classical music.
we have sound, which is very diverse and usually very impressive,
starting with the LUX set that offers a Super Audio CD with a
lossless 5.1 DSD (Direct Stream
Digital) that is the sonic highlight of all 10 releases, newly
recorded and exceptional in its articulation, fidelity and soundfield
all the way and an amazing demo (the DSD 2.0 Stereo is not bad and
PCM 2.0 Stereo CD-player-compatible passable), recreated on still
impressive Blu-ray in PCM 2.0 192/24 Stereo, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio)
5.1 lossless mix (192/24) and 11.1 options in the Dolby Atmos (48kHz)
and Auro (96kHz, which will default to DTS-MA for those without Auro
decoding in their home theater system) formats that are almost as
good, but not quite. Himmelborgen
is presented on its two discs the same way, but without as much
impact. 2L delivers again with top rate sonics they've been working
towards for years.
DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 5.1 lossless mix on the Harmoniker
Super Audio CD is as good as Himmelborgen, but cannot match
LUX at its best, but it can be close. Here too, the DSD 2.0
Stereo lossless sound is not bad and PCM 2.0 Stereo
for the DVDs, Henry IV offers PCM 2.0 Stereo and Fresque
both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and
somewhat lesser, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but both show their
age the limits of the recordings, so only expect so much.
leaves the four new shows on Blu-ray, all offering PCM 2.0 Stereo for
older systems and Levinas
has that as its only sonic offering unfortunately, but Coppelia
is the only one to offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix,
while the Giovanni
discs add DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mixes. They all turn out to be
excellent recordings that offer impressive playback throughout, so
you will not be disappointed unless you really, really want a
multi-channel mix on the Levinas
release. Otherwise, no problems here, but none are up to the
audio-only releases above.
include multi-lingual booklets with essays and informative text in
every release except Coppelia
for some reason and some of the discs have trailers for other
adds a director's commentary, cast gallery and several
behind-the-scenes shorts, Fresque
has its own singular behind-the-scenes short and the Berliner
release offers a 7-day digital concert hall voucher and the chance to
download the program in up to 192kHz/24-bit sound.