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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concerts > Classical > Opera > The Essential Mozart – 5 DVD set + Max Lorenz - Wagner’s Mastersinger + Murray Perahia – Beethoven The Complete Piano Concertos (Naxos/Medici Arts)

The Essential Mozart – 5 DVD set + Max Lorenz - Wagner’s Mastersinger + Murray Perahia – Beethoven The Complete Piano Concertos (Naxos/Medici Arts)


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



The Essential Mozart A-

Max Lorenz - Wagner’s Mastersinger B+

Murray Perahia – Complete Piano Concertos B+



We’ve been very pleased with the titles we’ve covered thus far from Medici Arts, which is a label from Naxos and you can read about some of those reviews here.  This review will cover several interesting titles released as well from Medici arts including a 5-disc set called The Essential Mozart, plus two single sets including Wagner’s Mastersinger and Murray Perahia’s Beethoven’s Complete Piano Concertos. 


First up is the terrific compilation of Mozart’s important works in The Essential Mozart collection, which features Symphonies No. 38 & 41, Clarinet Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 20, Violin Sonatas, Choral Works and Cosi fan tutte.  Each disc is broken down as follows:


Disc One:

Don Giovanni Overture

Clarinet Concerto

Symphony No. 38 “Prague”


Disc Two:

Divertimento K. 113

Piano Concerto No. 20

Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”


Disc Three:

Sonatas for Piano and Violin K.301-306


Disc Four:

Church Sonatas K.278/K.329

Mass K.427

“Coronation Mass” K.317

Ave verum corpus

Documentary – “Mozart in Vienna”


Disc Five:

Cosi fan tutte



We have also covered Mozart in a variety of other places, including the DTS Classic discs here, or the wonderful production of The Magic Flute here, and The Flute Quartet’s here.  Needless to say the wealth of material the Mozart wrote during his shortened lifetime is incredibly, each piece is layered with great difficulty, depth, and incredibly arrangement that his masterful mind was able to churn out faster than people could absorb it.  Here we are centuries later still mesmerized by the genius’ body of work; this package alone demonstrates his capability to write challenging and beautiful work in a variety of ways. 


What fans will love about this compilation is that it pulls together material that really demonstrates Mozart’s broad abilities to write for a variety of material, his symphonic work, his concertos, his church arrangements and of course his operatic material are all on full display within this set and Medici Arts gets it right too by featuring this DVD with good performance marks as well. 


Presented in 1.78 X 1 widescreen the presentations all look very good, even though the material is from a variety of different sources, the consistency is solid throughout as the whole package really comes together in a logical sense.  Close-up shots are well-rendered with good color and depth, likewise wider shots look good as well and considering the limitations of standard definition, it’s a pleasing transfer across the board.  We have been impressed with the labels entries on Blu-ray and look forward to even more material making it’s way as well, this DVD shines already and it’s migration to Blu-ray would be a fantastic move.


Sound is also impressive as the company gives us three audio options here, the first is a 2.0 PCM mix that is very good, crisp, and highly detailed, the second option is a weaker Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is spread a bit too thin, while the final option is the best as a DTS 5.1 mix that is thicker, richer, and more pronounced across the spectrum making it the sheer winner here.  Considering that these mixes are still lossy in their playback, it’s still surprising how good recordings can still sound phenomenal when done correct, this is certainly the case here with the DTS option, which we always prefer when we can get it! 


The second entry with this review is Murray Perahia’s Beethoven’s The Complete Piano Concertos, which I was highly interested in checking out knowing Perahia’s dedication to excellence in recording and sound engineering; this release was bound to entice Beethoven enthusiasts, especially since this is a complete works. 


The recording here is older, from 1988 and features Perahia on piano with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under leadership of Kenneth Sillito and Sir Neville Marriner conducting.  The program was filmed at the Royal Festival Hall in London and is part of the BBC archive.  We’ve covered Mari Kodami’s amazing presentation of this on SACD, which can be found here.  It’s unfortunate that this older broadcast was only available here in PCM 2.0, but it is still a stunning performance with amazing attention to detail, dynamics, and Perahia’s interpretation is inspiring for sure.  We just can’t get enough of great material like this on any format! 


Also from Medici Arts is another fine entry on the life of Max Lorenz, who during his prime was considering the finest tenor of Wagner’s repertoire and was utilized by the Third Reich during it’s reign, this DVD and CD set examines his life in a stirring documentary that showcases some material that we have never encountered before, even with other fantastic documentaries about Hitler or that particular era.  The documentary uses archival footage to assemble a really interesting tale of the man who led and interesting private life as well and uses his recordings as the soundtrack throughout, which only makes for a more fascinating viewing, the CD included is Richard Wagner’s Siegfried that features the entire first act and partial second act from a live Buenos Aires recording in 1938.  The documentary is presented in 1.78 X 1 and looks good considering we are getting raw archival footage, the PCM stereo sound is sufficient as well, the CD is a mono recording that shows some serious age, but is a great addition to a very intriguing program.


All three entries are fine examples of what this label is capable of on DVD and continues to bring forth very fine quality of work, also included are insert booklets that help detail some of the production or other important pieces of information that helps bring some context as well.



-   Nate Goss


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