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 > Drama > Dance > Sexuality > Nationalism > Homophobia > Geogian > Classical Music > Opera > Concert > Instrum > And Then We Danced (2019/Music Box Blu-ray)/Il Trovatore/Verdi/Morandi (2019/Zeffirelll/C Major/Unitel*)/Mahler Symph. No 2 ''Resurrection''/Dudamel (2019/Unitel*)/The Mother (2019/Opus Arte*)/Simon B

And Then We Danced (2019/Music Box Blu-ray)/Il Trovatore/Verdi/Morandi (2019/Zeffirelll/C Major/Unitel*)/Mahler Symph. No 2 ''Resurrection''/Dudamel (2019/Unitel*)/The Mother (2019/Opus Arte*)/Simon Boccanegra/Verdi/Gergiev (2019/Unitel*)/Turandot/Puccini/Luisotti (2018/BelAir*)/Yo-Yo Ma: The Bach Project Cello Suites (2019/C Major/*all Naxos Blu-rays)

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

Now for another large set of classical music releases...

We start with our single theatrical feature film, Levan Akin's And Then We Danced (2019) has Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) working at his best as a top dancer (he hopes) in the Georgian tradition (the film takes place there) with high hopes, a girlfriend and great potential, but the also has a few private things he is trying to deal with. When a new dancer arrives and has the talent, plus more ambition than he, he feels the competition. He also starts to have feelings for him.

This kind of story has been done before, though the Georgian background and good actors make it something a little different, but I thought the film was a bit uneven and did not add up to too much we have not seen before. Still, those interested will like the more interesting parts and that might make it worth a look for that crowd.

Next, we revisit the Verdi classic Il Trovatore (2019) for the first time in many, many years, but this time, it is directed by no less than big screen movie director Franco Zeffirelll. We loved an earlier version by Brian Large and company that was an early HD classical triumph we reviewed at this link:


Produced in the outdoor Arena di Verona, it runs a long-but-pleasant 157 minutes and has its moments, though I still like the older version a bit better. Conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi does a solid job of keeping this colorful version going, as well as a cast that includes Luca Salsi, Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov and Dolora Zajick, then you get a top rate show that is one of the best entries on this list.

In speaking of revisiting, it is always great to see the name of composer Gustavo Dudamel, so here it is again, this time with the Munchner Philharmoniker playing (with beautiful surroundings) Mahler Symphony No 2: ''Resurrection'' (2019) is a performance worthy of the Abbado version on Blu-ray a good while ago:


This new one comes close, but I think Abbado's version has just the slightest edge in how it works, but it is very thin. Fans might want to try the two back to back and judge for themselves, but both are more than worthy of the original work. It is a pleasant surprise just the same.

Next up is The Mother (2019) choreographed by Arthur Pita, who also directs the ballet adaption of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, it is dark, expressive, different, a little deathly and a little deconstructive. Starring Natalia Osipova in the title role, it can sometimes be like a horror film, but that is not always bad. However, it runs a surprisingly short 78 minutes and may not be for everyone. I had a tech issue with it, which you can read more about below.

Back to revisiting past works, this time its Verdi's Simon Boccanegra (2019) conducted by Valery Gergiev and staged by Andreas Kriegenburg, but this is very deconstructionist and minimalist with simple sets and an abundance of texting, which the production gets too carried away with at the expense of telling the story to me. Running a long 142 minutes, I thought the cast was not bad and even features Luca Salsi from the Il Trovatore production above, so he is on a streak of his own. I just wish this had expanded into other territory before it got stuck.

I much preferred the Mariotti version you can read more about on Blu-ray here:


Continuing our revisiting theme, we have Puccini's Turandot (2018) directed by Robert Wilson with conductor Nicola Luisotti and the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Real doing a nice job of delivering an only somewhat limited-in-sets version that is actually not bad and holds up after 122 minutes. I like the singing, use of color and stars Irene Theorin, Gregory Kunde, Yolanda Auyanet and Andrea Mastroni to create a solid version that works for the most part.

It compares well to the Chen Kaige version with composer Zubin Mehta we reviewed on Blu-ray here, which I liked a little more than the new one:


Again, they make a great pair to compare and are impressive, so you can see both now if you wish and in either case, you will not be disappointed.

Finally, last but not least, the best release on the list. Yo-Yo Ma: The Bach Project Cello Suites (2019) has the musician/genius deliver all six parts of the Bach classic in a great 140-minutes-long concert that has energy, a great audience and the master at the peak of his powers delivering definitive performances of these classics. Simple, amazing, direct, smooth, joyous and impressive, you can see why he continues to be one of the most sought-after musicians in the world.

You would think this might get repetitive or monotonous, but it does not because he takes his time to play these pieces deeply, well and like no one else in the world. It is fine and highly recommended, as is this Blu-ray with Yo-Yo Ma and Mariss Jansons that is just as impressive and impactful:


The lesson from this, Yo-Yo Ma cannot release enough Blu-rays. And looking back at our long list of classical reviews, not enough Bach and certainly not enough Cello.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Dance should be the best performer here, but it has motion blur issues a little too often and lands up being as blurry in small bits as all six Naxos 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers, though Trovatore, Mahler and Boccanegra claim to be 4K Ultra HD productions. Too bad they are not here on 4K disc. Some can be a little darker than I would have liked, but the Yo-Yo Ma disc looks best because the camera moves around the least.

All seven Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, save 5.0 on Yo-Yo Ma, but that sounds as good as anything here. All six Naxos also offer PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes for older systems, but none work as well as their DTS multi-channel counterparts, save Mother, which is very harsh and shrill in either soundtrack version, a rare miss of Naxos releases.

Extras in all six Naxos releases include multi-lingual booklets on the respective programs, Mahler and Boccanegra only add trailers, Mother has a behind the scenes clip and Yo-Yo Ma has a nice on camera interview with the an himself. Dance offers a Director Interview, Q&A piece, feature length audio commentary track, a Dance Party, Georgian Dance Tutorial and Original Theatrical Trailer.

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com