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Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quality concerns: not much better than DVD, 10 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Nutcracker: Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra, Valery Gergiev [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
Ballet: 4.5/5, Camera work: 2.5/5, Picture: 3/5, Audio: 3/5

Blu-ray review
This is a conventional live performance, the period costumes are colourful but the stage set is sparse and only just adequate for the purpose. I'm not qualified to critique the ballet but the children seem to dance well, in particular the boy in the pas de trois. The few national dances are the usual stereotype or caricature of the real thing: I suppose people expect this rather than a more authentic or modern variety. The two adult principal dancers especially the male get a warm reception. The music is broad in tempo and shifts down a gear in a few passages and appears to accommodate the needs of children dancers.

There are a few camera angles used and the one from above seems a bit superfluous. The close zooming does nothing to enhance the show but instead reveals details that the normal audience would not see so well, like the slight movements of the dancers when they are supposed to hold still and the curtain-thin larger than life but barely decorated Christmas tree. Close zooming and panning also induces a little vertigo as the other dancers in the background move quickly. It isn't necessary to view the dancers from the stage in the middle of the action or from high up above where the lights are.

Picture quality is a bit disappointing, it looks soft, not more than 720p at the most, and devoid of fine details on stage. Probably some DNR was applied. There are more details on Gergiev's face. It is encoded in mpeg-2 (still in use for a 2012 recording?) and 1080i60. It looks suspicious as coming from the same master for DVD. The end credits mention 3D so maybe a 3D version will come out later.

Audio tracks are 2.0 24/48 PCM, 5.1 dts 754kbps and 5.1 DD 448kbps and obviously ported over from DVD. I cannot say how much better a lossless multi-channel track will be but providing just the DVD quality audio does seem to be a bit mean. We don't even get dts 1.5Mbps which DVD supports. The dts track did not work in one of my players (and caused the picture to freeze up) but fine on another (both bitstreaming). The dts surround sound is mainly frontal and lowish in volume throughout and sounds a little compressed in dynamics. None of the previous reviewers mentioned the audio specs and thus sends a wrong message to the studios that buyers don't care for the best audio quality. I would not have bought it as a matter of principle if I had known about it.

The disc comes in a digipak and the back lists NTSC region 0 (which applies to DVD) which indicates ignorance or lack of attention to details. When I first saw NVC Arts on the front my expectation was immediately dampened as this label does not have the best track record and unfortunately my initial fears were borne out. Basically it isn't much of an upgrade from a DVD and not in the same league as the previous Gergiev/Mariinsky Blu-ray (the Tchaikovsky symphonies 4-6). If possible rent or borrow it first, it's not so bad at the pre-order discount price but definitely not worth the full price now.
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T. Wei
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Location: planet earth

Top Reviewer Ranking: 42,860