Of Modern Art
Tchaikovsky: Argerich Barenboim
(2019/Unitel/*all Naxos Blu-rays)
C+/B/B/B-/B- Sound: C/B/B-/B-/B Extras: D/C/C/C+/C Main
for more classical arts releases for you to know about...
start with a French TV mini-series on the arts in the early 20th
Century from that country that influenced the world. The
Adventurers Of Modern Art
(2015) is a six-episode work that uses way more stylized animation to
tell its story than I would have liked (in a three-way tie with bad
acting reenactments and ugly, colorized black and white footage
trying to be 'fresh' and 'new' when it looks like crap) meaning the
program also feels like it is trying too hard to tell its story.
shows include 1. Bohemia,
And His Gang,
Capital Of The World,
Enchanters Of Montparnasse,
and 6. Midnight
No doubt this is well written and researched, even matching the many
materials of the time that I have read about and watched over the
years, but the animation does get repetitive and I wish more stills
or other items had been used. Otherwise, this is a good crash corse
of six nearly one-hour shows for art fans and those who want to know
more. In that, it is not a bad release.
up is a new version of Bizet's Carmen
(2019) choreographed by Jiri Bubenicek, conducted by Louis Lohraseb
with music by more than Bizet and featuring Rebecca Bianchi in the
title role. Supported by Amar Ramasar and Alessio Rezza, it is a
good production, there is talent all around, money in the production
and some energy to it. Yet, I was only so impressed and did not find
it definitive, but maybe we have been spoiled by previous versions
that really worked well.
this is still not a bad version of Carmen,
the three we have covered in the past (and on Blu-ray) tend to work
better and you can read about them as follows:
Jordan version with a great summary of the storyline
Piollet version from C Major/Unitel
if you want to see a different version (produced by the Italian RAI
TV network at the Teatro Dell'Opera di Roma) with decent playback
performance on par with the previous releases, this is worth your
time. However, you might want to try the other versions (save if you
have a 3D HDTV or not) and it is at least respectable enough.
is the first time we have covered any performance of Andre Messager's
(2019) about upper-class living at the turn of the last century (and
just before the art period of the TV mini-series reviewed above, by
coincidence) in a nearly two-hour opera that was first performed back
in 1907, based on Alfred du Musset's play La
Cyrille DuBois is the title character, this includes relationships
under oppressed circumstances and is as true now as ever.
characters become trapped by circumstance, agreeing to all kinds of
misery and also how a lack of character can devastate more people
than imagined. This is well sung, acted and the production is not
bad, costumes not bad and lighting usually good. It comes in at
about two hours and is worth the time of those interested.
Nomura Schible's Ryuichi
(2020) is a solid documentary on the great, underrated maestro,
composer, music man that covers his early days in a 1970s electronic
band (just a shade away from the Progressive Rock world) and where he
is today. The composer of motion picture soundtracks for Merry
Christmas Mr. Lawrence,
and Bernardo Bertolucci (The
has a unique sound and ideas of sound and music that arguably cross
the line of diegetic and non-diegetic sound for film and even in
music as to what music is and can be. Vangelis might be a rare
contemporary in this sense.
actually learn the the sound and music in the films of legendary
Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (we see a clip from Solaris
(1972) as an example) inspired Sakamoto to take the music direction
he took. But on top of this, all kinds of great vintage clips of him
as a younger man, artist and performer, and biographical information,
we get an artist who is getting more political.
by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe (still leaking radiation years
later as you read this!!!) and by the conformity in his home country
of Japan that helped make it possible, the film starts with him
addressing it and becoming part of the protests against it. Then, he
also just found out he has cancer, so this program covers a lifetime
and world of ideas in its rich 101 minutes and portrait of one of the
great artists of our time and all time. It makes you want to go out
and buy all his albums.
every time I see Daniel Barenboim's name, I know I will be guaranteed
an excellent concert and his grasp and performance of the classics is
so definitive that it is uncanny. This new Schubert
release (2019) also adds the great pianist Martha Argerich as they
cover Scubert's Symphony
No. 7 in B Minor, D.759 ''Unfinished''
in A Major, D.951,
plus Tchaikovsky's Concerto
for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23.
show runs a rich, tight 75 minutes and us another amazing concert
where the music always sounds on the money and the West-Eastern Divan
Orchestra is in great form to meet the moment. This is from the
Grobes Festspielhaus, Salzburg Festival and apparently was one of its
strongest highlights. Fans may see it as a cultural event, but it is
at least excellent and sometimes outstanding to the point one wishes
it went on much, much longer. As it is, it is one of the best
entries on this list. See it and hear it!
for the playback performance. All three Naxos releases are here in
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition with Carmen
looking the best on the list, with stable images, fine color and
hardly any motion blur, but the Barenboim disc has a little more blur
and softness throughout.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Coda
is also very stable and as much as any disc on the list, but it is a
documentary as well and has some older analog video that is low
definition here and there, plus a few other soft spots. Otherwise,
this looks fine.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Modern
is good for the older format, but this can be softer than one would
like, including the intentionally soft animation. The sound is not
bad, but odd as we get the French version in both lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital Stereo mixes, while we only get English
2.0 Dolby Stereo. The 5.1 mix is the best on the disc, so why should
we have a softer English-only track? Not good.
the Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and
lesser stereo mixes, but the Naxos discs offer them in PCM 2.0
Stereo, while Coda
is in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless. Carmen
are the sonic champs here, while Coda
also has fine sound, but being a documentary, we often get quiet
moments and plenty of talking, so its soundfield is not as consistent
by default, plus older video is usually simple stereo or even
DVD set has no extras, but the three Naxos Blu-rays come with
booklets on each respective program and in multiple languages. Some
of these discs have trailers too. Coda adds a 2019 concert that runs
over an hour called Ryuichi
Sakamoto: async At The Park Avenue Armory.