Roger Waters – Ca Ira (2005/Opera/Super Audio Compact Disc
Set/SA-CD/SACD with bonus DVD/Sony Classical)
Sound: B+ Music:
After so many solo projects and a strong association with
Pink Floyd, Roger Waters decided to switch gears from his own solo works and
solo concerts tours (still not reuniting with the band) and go back into the
larger music composition territory that made The Wall such a key work in Rock Music history. This time, he would take on The French
Revolution as the subject and set a libretto by Etienne & Nadine Roda-Gil
to music. The result is Ca Ira
(2005), his first Opera and most ambitious non-Floyd work to date.
Available in several formats, we have experienced the
entire work in one of Sony Music’s more recent Super Audio CD releases, showing
the format is still alive and well, ironically with the Jazz and Classical
Music genres but alive just the same.
This 3-Disc set (two SA-CD/one DVD) is a hybrid edition with three sets
of tracks to compare, but it is the 5.1 multi-channel mix
that is preferred.
Many may have surprised by this move or that this version
is in English, so the result was a work that was ignored without having a
chance to be heard. Also, any work by a
man who created a work as subversive as The
Wall was definitely going to be ignored in the middle of the Bush II era,
so we suspect more than a little censorship was involved in preventing this
work from getting out and becoming any kind of success.
As it stands, this is pretty good and once you get
adjusted to the singing, Waters has done his best to paint an epic portrait of
what really was the rise and fall of the movement and how it changed France and
affected the world forever. He could
have made it into a Rock Opera, but he is working against type here and that
was not the music of the time, so he decided to take this approach and it has
its moments. However, at its length, it
is a little uneven and in total, never adds up to the big statement I expected
or delivering the stark memorability of his best work. Maybe his style and the original book do not
cohere as well either.
The singing by Paul Groves, Ying Huang, Ismael Lo and Bryn
Terfel are just fine and sound good here, while Rick Wentworth’s orchestration
(with Waters) is as rich and full as you would expect. It is not a matter of everyone not working at
their best; it is just that the subject is not easy to tackle. All fare better than not, yet when this was
complete, there seems to be a sense of things not said or expounded upon and
the result is one of the more interesting chapters in Waters’ career still to
be discovered. There is still a larger
audience for this work than it found.
The DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 5.1 mix is a little
limited in range and depth versus the best such mixes we have heard in the
genre, but this still delivers a strong enough multi-channel mix to impress and
compete with similar SA-CDs plus the many multi-channel Blu-rays with PCM–based
lossless we have covered in recent years.
The DSD 2.0 Stereo is also really good, if missing some of the
articulation of the 5.1 version. The PCM
2.0 16 bit/44.1kHz Stereo is the weakest of the three, but fairly good just the
same. It just pales to the 5.1 mix.
The bonus DVD has Adrian Maben’s documentary The Making Of Ca Ira in an anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1 presentation that can be soft and only has Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo, but runs just over 53 minutes, is always interesting and shows how much
work was put into producing the result.
You may want to see it after listening to the whole work, or before if
you find entry into it difficult.
The other extra is a booklet built into the gatefold
packaging that is on high-quality paper and rich in information and detail on
For another ambitious work on The French Revolution, see
Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) which indirectly deals with it or try
this link to one of Director Peter Watkins’ later works, La Commune (Paris, 1871):
- Nicholas Sheffo