Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barenboim's Verdi Requiem, 3 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Teatro Alla Scala Di Milano) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This was an issue I anticipated with great expectations; as soon as it was announced I pre-ordered the Blu-ray, hoping that it would displace my favourite video performance, Abbado's DVD on EMI. In short, it hasn't managed to achieve that difficult task, but hasn't left me too disappointed.
Seeing Barenboim conducting makes it clear to all that he is thoroughly in command, and has moulded the performance to his own ideals, being alert to every change in tempo and dynamics. His chorus is well drilled; I would have preferred a little more sound from the basses, probably because theirs is the part I have been accustomed to singing. As a whole the chorus responds well to Barenboim's direction.
The line-up of soloists had my mouth watering, save for the soprano Anja Harteros who was a new name to me. She, however, soon endeared herself to me and became my preferred soloist; all in all it is an excellent quartet. Elina Garanca sings beautifully as always, but not as animatedly as her companions, and I would have liked more power in her lower register. Rene Pape is sonorously solemn and Jonas Kaufmann puts his operatic all into a heartfelt Ingemisco.
The performance, then, satisfied me - even thrilled me in parts.
Perhaps it was to Decca's disadvantage that I had just been enjoying Dudamel's Mahler 8th symphony on blu-ray, a production that impressed me on many counts but especially for the stunning high resolution pictures and natural surround sound. The introduction to the Verdi shows traffic passing in front of La Scala, and I immediately noticed some jerkiness in the movement. This continues throughout; not disastrously but enough to catch my eye. In case of some problem with my Oppo player I tried the Mahler again, which was noticeably better, despite apparently being also at a frame rate of 29.97 fps. I also tried the Verdi via my Popcorn Hour media player, with little difference; 1080p 60fps seemed to be the best compromise. Otherwise the pictures are good without being outstanding.
The applause on the Verdi as Barenboim enters comes from the front speakers, not surrounding the listener as with Dudamel, and my impression of the Verdi (listening to the DTS HD surround) is of good stereo recording in a resonant hall, with little from the rear until the offstage trumpets make their appearance. The soloists are forward, but not excessively, and in all the audio is very clear, enjoying a wide dynamic and frequency range. There is no audience noise, which, reinforces my impression of a fairly closely miked recording (yet retaining a pleasing resonance). In contrast Dudamel has some audience noise, but his huge forces are set in an ideal and natural audio environment which approximates to a good seat in the centre of the hall.
I'm sorry to have given a qualified welcome to this release, and hope that it will not deter anyone from sampling it.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Sep 2013 22:28:45 BDT
D. T. Evans says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Sep 2013 06:59:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Sep 2013 07:03:00 BDT
You are more than welcome to dismiss my review; I am not an expert, merely an amateur who would like to assist anyone considering whether to buy a recording. You are evidently a fan of Anja Harteros; it just happens to be true that I do not have any other recording by her, despite having been collecting music recordings for over 50 years.
I see that she won the Cardiff Singer Of The World competition, so I would be very likely to have seen and heard her, but failed to remember.
We are in agreement that she gave a stunning performance on this blu-ray.

My main reason for writing the review was to comment on the technical aspects, since there was no other review on Amazon UK at the time of writing, and I failed to find any other information elsewhere on the internet that helped me in my decision whether to buy it. Despite your comment I hope that it may have helped you.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2013 21:38:35 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2013 13:22:52 BDT
Le Blaireau says:
The reviewer didn't "pretend he knew", but gave an honest assessment of how the performance and quality of recording appeared to him. It didn't attempt to force an entrenched point of view on anyone else, and all that combined to make it a most useful review.
Far more useful than sour and rude comments from those with narrow minds.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 18:37:52 BDT
The important word here is 'taste'. We will just have to differ about Gheorghiu, but if you read my review of that performance you will note that I didn't find Alagna on top form too.

I still maintain that the audio quality on the DVD is excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 18:40:05 BDT
I'm glad 'Le Blaireau' found my review of use. That was all I was aiming for.

Posted on 9 Feb 2014 07:12:38 GMT
Hello, John. Will you be reviewing the Dudamel?

Verdi: Messa Da Requiem [Gustavo Dudamel, I. D'Arcangelo, V. Grigolo] [C Major: 714708] [DVD] [2013]

Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Feb 2014 16:15:46 GMT
Hi Filippo,
If I get hold of the Blu-ray, I will certainly add my comments, if I feel I have anything extra to say that hasn't already been mentioned. Sometimes I read other reviews and find that my viewpoint has already been given, so don't bother. As yet, though, I haven't heard or seen Dudamel's Verdi Requiem, but am certainly interested in doing so.
Thanks for your comment.
John

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2014 16:36:19 GMT
Hi again Filippo,

I have now posted a review of Dudamel's Blu-ray. Hope you find it useful.
John

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2014 16:38:52 GMT
Yaay! :-)
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