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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Clasical > Opera > Ballet > Blu-ray > Wagner – Tannhauser/Shostakovich – Lady MacBeth Of Mtsensk/Stravinsky: Ballet Russes/Delibes: Sylvia/Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake/Wagner: Tristan.../Puccini: Il Trittico/R. Strauss: Elektra/Grieg Piano Con.

Wagner – Tannhauser: Jordan/Shostakovich – Lady MacBeth Of Mtsensk: Conlon (Art Haus)/Stravinsky & The Ballet Russes: Firebird/Rite Of Spring (Bel Aire)/Delibes: Sylvia – G. Bond/ Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake - Ovsyanikov/ Wagner: Tristan & Isolde – Belohavek (Opus Arte)/Puccini: Il Trittico – Reynolds/R. Strauss: Elektra – Von Dohnanyi (TDK)/Grieg: Piano Concerto (2L w/SA-CD)/(Naxos Blu-rays)


Picture: B- (B Elektra/Grieg has no picture)     Sound: B* (B+ Sylvia, Grieg & Tristan)     Extras: C (C+ Russes, Lake & Tannhauser)     Concerts: B (B- Elektra)



*Super Audio CD for Grieg: DSD 5.1 B+, DSD 2.0 B, PCM 2.0 B-



A look at the latest high quality Classical Blu-rays distributed by Naxos with all their great label partners is an interesting mix this time around, including an SA-CD and some works we don’t hear about or see enough.



Wagner – Tannhauser: Jordan is a 2008 show with Philippe Jordan that has the thrust and feel of his work and a German/Amsterdam co-production that is a very effective rendering the tale of a man whose search for what life is turns into a possible deal with the devil as realized as a stage version can get.  It did not stay with me a very long time, but was rich enough to recommend strongly for those who have not seen it.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 is not bad, but still does not take full advantage of the soundfield all the time.  A documentary is an additional extra worth seeing after watching the main program.


Shostakovich – Lady MacBeth Of Mtsensk: Conlon is an impressive revision of the Shakespeare tale in hard life Russian terms.  Also taped in 2008, this is an Opera in four acts that brings a new side out of the classic tale that has been done one too many times in its classic form.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 is also not bad here, but (again) still does not take full advantage of the soundfield all the time. 


Stravinsky & The Ballet Russes: The Firebird & The Rite Of Spring (Bel Aire) brings the two classics together in this energetic, high quality production from 2008 at the Marinsky Theater and is one of the better ballets I have seen on home video of any kind to date.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is pretty good for the most part, if lacking in some depth.  Additional extras include a short called Documentary and An interview with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.


Delibes: Sylvia – G. Bond is another ballet that is more traditional and more effective than expected, being another less-famous but highly worthy work from Graham Bond and The Royal Opera House.  Not as stuffy as expected, well done throughout and compelling enough to watch all the way through.  The PCM 5.1 is one of the best soundtracks here, with rich, clear sound that has fine depth and a solid soundfield.


Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake - Ovsyanikov is easily one of the best versions of this work I have ever seen and I have seen (and even suffered) through a few.  Another winner from The Royal Opera House, the PCM 5.1 is just fine if quiet and additional extras include cast gallery, illustrated synopsis, interview with Producer Anthony Dowell and a half-hour piece Four Swan Queens involving interviews with former prima ballerinas on the demands of this work and the business in general.


Wagner: Tristan & Isolde – Belohavek is a fine operatic interpretation of the legendary love story that is my favorite of the releases here, with grand Glyndebourne production values and performances that really make this come alive.  I liked the cast very much and found it the most engrossing of the shows here, though there were a few parts that hold it back, but this is impressive.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is exceptional and along with Sylvia is how clean, clear, warm and real all of the releases here should have been.  The often dark image is exceptionally rendered for a 1080i HD recording.  This also offers one of the better Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes I have heard lately.  Additional extras include cast gallery, illustrated synopsis, on the set stills (animated), Trimborn on Tristan interview with music scholar Richard Trimborn and the short film Do I Hear The Light?


Puccini: Il Trittico – Reynolds is a fine version of one of Puccini’s less discussed and performed works as performed in 2007.  He made this based on WWI and its fallout, in three separate pieces and I like how the three pieces play on their own, then make sense in context to each other.  Once again, we get a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 mix that is not bad, but still does not take full advantage of the soundfield all the time. 


R. Strauss: Elektra – Von Dohnanyi (TDK) is an ambitious but just too-modern-in-style interpretation of the work despite the ambition here.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 is just good enough to get its rating, but expect more compression in places than expected. 


Grieg: Piano Concerto is recorded in the Digital eXtreme Definition PCM-based format at 24 bits and a very high 352.8 kHz, but with the better dynamics come problems and distortion.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 96/24 7.1 on the Blu-ray and DSD 5.1 mix on the SA-CD are both strong, but harsh due to the DXD recording process that proves the limits of PCM at its highest versus how much better this could have been if it were a Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording.  Somewhere between 96/24 and 192/24, PCM starts to have distortion problems and you can begin to hear some of them here in both formats.



All have 2.0 Stereo versions of their multi-channel mixes that are not as good and all but the imageless Grieg release have 1080i HD shoots and they can look fine, but like their Rock counterparts, 1080i only goes so far and usually comes with limits that film and higher HD formats (2K - 4K, not used for any concerts yet) would be less likely to have, like slight noise, slight limits in black, white & red or even slight staircasing, digital noise and slight issues with the interlacing working.  All offer 2.0 Stereo versions of their audio that is not as effective in the same format the multi-channel is offered.  I should add that while the audio is better than what you would find on a DVD, factors like slight compression, soundstage limits or just a lack of total envelopment held the multi-channel versions back a bit.  They are all still fine recordings, though, so don’t let that stop you from enjoying them for as well as they work.  As for extras, all have thick booklets inside the Blu-ray case and some have trailers for other Blu-ray releases.



For more related Blu-rays, try these links:


Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi



Puccini’s La Boheme



Puccini’s Tosca



R. Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier



Wagner’s Gotterdammerung



Wagner’s Lohengrin




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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