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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Guitar > Orchestra > Opera > Comedy > Drama > Experimental > Folk > Multi-C > Veneliti: Oslo Kammerkor (both 2019/2L Blu-ray/Super Audio CD Hybrid Sets)/Young Picasso (2019/EX21 DVD/all Naxos)

Antologia de la guirarra, V.1: Maruri (2016/EMEC Blu-ray)/Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique: Gardiner (2019/Versailles Blu-ray w/DVD)/Cavalleria Rusticana: Galli (2019/Dynamic Blu-ray)/Trachea: Schola Cantorum/Veneliti: Oslo Kammerkor (both 2019/2L Blu-ray/Super Audio CD Hybrid Sets)/Young Picasso (2019/EX21 DVD/all Naxos)

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

This new set of classical music releases is more diverse than usual...

Antologia de la guirarra: Vol. 1, Renacimirento (2016) offers Agustin Maruri playing five music pieces from previous centuries (by Milan, Narvaez, Midarra, Sanz and Chilesotti) all while the camera (hardly ever moving) records him doing so. The performance is fine and sound better than if this were a CD, but the image is useful for those who want to see the musician or try to play like him. Otherwise, the audio impressed me more than the video and it is nice to have another entry in such guitar music on the site.

We have covered Berlioz works a few times before, but this version of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (2019) is somehow the first time we covered this particular work. First performed in late 1830, it is about the pain of love lost and the long term results and pain of that loss, the kind of work that has been heard and is known, even if you don't know much about or are much into classical music. We get a few pieces of other Berlioz music and you can actually see our coverage of a Les Troyens Blu-ray that happens to be with a previous version of Cavalleria Rusticana that you can read more about in the link in that review just below this.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner does an great job of conducting the entire piece and then some, offering the right tempo, energy and power to bringing this great work to life, preceded by other Berlioz works like Les Troyens, Les Corsaire and La Mort De Cleopatra, but Gardiner does not use them as mere warm-ups, but as reminders of the power and greatness of Berlioz from the first note.

Live at Opera Royale with Chateau de Versailles, this is top rate work and runs 107 minutes. Really nice!

We have a new stage version of Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana (2019) on Blu-ray, this time from the Dynamic label and it follows this remarkable version we reviewed a good few years ago at this link:


Valerio Galli is the conductor at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and it is well done and enjoyable, running only 80 minutes, but I still liked the other version a little better in a case where one is good, but the other is just more well realized. Staging is colorful, but can be dark, while the singing and dancing is solid, so you cannot go wrong with this one, but real diehard fans might want to watch both versions back to back to really enjoy what both are doing as both do succeed well enough.

2L is a label that strives to be the best and offer something different. They have been focusing on a new series of Blu-ray/Super Audio CD sets to showcase any music they release with the highest fidelity possible and with all three options on the SA-CDs, plus four on the Blu-rays, including some of the first titles issued in the U.S. market with Auro 3D 11.1 sound, which was the first system to offer more than 8 tracks, starting in movie theaters.

The selections have either been religious-affiliated music or abstract, newer instrumentals, which the two titles here offer. Trachea: Schola Cantorum literally imagines music from that body part, while Veneliti: Oslo Kammerkor (both 2019, by the way) offers folk music, especially from Norway, with sonic emphasis that mikes it something a little different too. I like the risks taken, even if the results are more interesting than realized, but few labels are allowing for this and it makes all 2L releases like this worth experiencing. It is also interesting demo material for more advanced music thinker/listener and any home theater system.

Finally we have Phil Grabsky's Young Picasso (2019) from TV overseas that focuses on the early years of one of the most important painters of all time, running just over 90 minutes and pretty thorough in its quest to find out and tell about everything they could on the artist, adding to the long and growing list of such attempts. Our first release to cover from the EX21 label, it is a decent DVD and deserves to be on any serious list for those interested in the work and the artist.

The three Blu-rays here with video footage offer 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition transfers that all have some motion blur and detail issues here and there, but look good enough, with Antologica hardly having its camera move at all. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Picasso is softer with motion blur and more detail issues, but not on Blu-ray for now apparently, which can be said for the same configuration on the Berlioz DVD.

As for sound, the two Super Audio CDs from 2L offer the ultra high definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) sound in decent 5.1 and about as good 2.0 Stereo DSD, plus it is a hybrid CD, so you also get a lesser PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo CD track for older players. I wish the 5.1 was more impressive here, but it is not stunning, though well recorded. The two Blu-rays (once again for 2L) offer 192/24 PCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mixes, but also add Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D soundtracks with slightly different configurations. The Auro (which will play as DTS-HD on systems without Auro decoding) is 7.0.4 on Trachea and 5.0.4 on Veneliti, but that difference did not have much of an impact on my playback of either. The Atmos, Auro and DSD 5.1 mixes are your best bets.

Rusticana and Berlioz offer solid DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, and are joined by the PCM 2.0 Stereo only Antologia as offering PCM 2.0 Stereo, which is passable on the Blu-rays that have DTS 5.1, but not as good. The Berlioz DVD adds lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is not as good either, but Picasso settles for lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, so only expect so much and it is a documentary and not about music.

Picasso has no extras, but the rest of the releases offers multi-lingual booklets on their respective releases, some with illustrations. Three separate on camera interviews are the added extra on Rusticana, making it the most 'loaded' disc on the list by default.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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