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Joseph L. Ponessa (Glendive MT USA)
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Wagner:Der Ring [Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Wagner:Der Ring [Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala] [ARTHAUS: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Meier
Price: £64.65

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the singers among the best available during this epoch of impoverishment for Wagnerian singing, 6 Mar. 2015
Amazon have attached three reviews from the Bayreuth Ring of 1991/92 to the La Scala Ring of 2010/12. Shame on Amazon for not figuring out how to match reviews with the correct products. They are relying on word-association instead of product codes. These two Ring cycles have nothing in common except that Daniel Barenboim conducts them both (very well, I might add).
About the La Scala Ring of 2010/12 on Blu-ray: I bought the four operas separately as they emerged, while this product combines them into a set. Acrobatics and dance have invaded operatic productions more and more, hardly ever illuminating the narrative. Silly groping groups mar this Rheingold, and a gigantic metronome swings back and forth from the ceiling during Die Walküre, out of time with the music. The rest of the Ring is mercifully spared these distractions. The conductor and orchestra are superlative, the singers among the best available during this epoch of impoverishment for Wagnerian singing.


Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore (Remastered edition with libretto + Blu-Ray Audio disc)
Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore (Remastered edition with libretto + Blu-Ray Audio disc)
Price: £28.98

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faulty BD, flawless performance, 5 Dec. 2014
Was looking forward to the blu-ray pressing of L'ELISIR D'AMORE, but the disc would not play in my Oppo 83. I examined the disc and found a big fingerprint and smudge (not mine.) I cleaned off the fingerprint and the disc still would not play. However, I outfoxed it by pressing "enter" repeated as it was trying to load, and somehow bypassed the menu. So I heard the whole thing through with satisfaction.
Pavarotti and Sutherland seem to be trying to hold their thunder at the beginning, but not long into the work they let go with cannons blazing. It was very enjoyable, if not yet the characterization that Pavarotti would perfect on stage. Perhaps he needed an audience to play against, as he always did so well. I like his 1980 Met video better than his 1992 Met video, but on neither occasion did he have a partner of power as he did in this 1970 recording.
When I ejected the disc I took another look at it, and found a milky haze over the whole surface. So I cleaned it carefully with lens cleaner and tried it again. Again it would not load, but again by pressing "enter" repeatedly I could bypass the menu and go straight into the music. So, in future, I will go to chapter one before the disc ends, and then the disc will want to start there.
I cannot put the BD back into the digipack slot, because it is contaminated with whatever industrial smudge was on the disc. So I have found another package for it.
The CDs have no such manufacturing problems, and in fact I liked the sound of them just as well as that of the BD.
I am hesitant to acquire the two companion releases, TURANDOT and MADAMA BUTTERFLY, in view of the problem I had here. But I do not regret this purchase.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2017 8:35 AM BST


Allegri: Miserere [The Tallis Scholars] [Gimell: GIMBD641] [Pure Audio Blu-Ray]
Allegri: Miserere [The Tallis Scholars] [Gimell: GIMBD641] [Pure Audio Blu-Ray]
Dvd ~ The Tallis Scholars
Offered by nagiry
Price: £14.19

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Comparison, 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I now have three performances of Palestrina's Missa papae Marcelli by the Tallis Scholars:
(1) The analog recording made at Merton College Chapel, Oxford in 1980, which appeared first on vinyl and then on a well-remastered CD. The work is well performed and well recorded, not necessarily superseded by the recordings that followed.
(2) The video recording made at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome in 1994, both on a fine laserdisc and a less fine DVD. It is nice to be able to see the performers, and there is a real sense of occasion, being the four-hundredth anniversary of the composer's death. Allegri's Miserere is also sung, along with Palestrina's Stabat mater and four motets. It is an ample program, with the Allegri piece as a not-unwelcome intrusion.
(3) The multi-channel, high-resolution recording made at Merton College Chapel in 2005, first released on two-channel CD in 2007 and now appearing in 5.1 glory on blu-ray along with Palestrina's Stabat mater and Tu es Petrus, and Allegri's Miserere. As I contemplated the creation of Adam on screen through all 76 minutes of music, I couldn't help but notice that Adam's face seems to be a mirror image of God's, but minus the beard. All this music was written to be performed under this particular art, but for the Miserere Michelangelo's portrayal of one of the sad prophets like Jeremiah from the same ceiling would have been even more appropriate.
The Miserere is sung once at the beginning and again more ornately at the end. So the disc invites comparison. I did like the simpler version better. The use of Tonus Peregrinus rather than Mode II for the psalm verses is ingenious, identified as parodied in the soprano part. But I wonder if it was really the Lamentation tone from Tenebrae that was being parodied. Tonus Peregrinus only appears in conjunction with Psalm 114, a Sunday Hallel Psalm in the Gregorian repertory, so there is no evidence of T.P. being connected with repentance. Miserere, however, is a Psalm of Good Friday and would meld with the Lamentation tone most fittingly in the same liturgy.
Without the vinyl to compare, the results of my little comparison are (1) blu-ray, (2) laserdisc, (3) CD and (4) DVD, in that descending order. Thanks to Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars for giving us the only Renaissance blu-ray that has yet appeared--unless Palestrina is considered baroque, in which case they have given us the earliest baroque work on blu-ray. I recommend to everybody that you buy this blu-ray, and if you all do, then the Scholars will be encouraged to release the 1980 and 1994 performances on blu-ray also. Pretty please?
PS--BTW, I also compared the blu-ray with the only other high-resolution recording of the Missa, an SACD. Those forces transposed the entire work down a third. The soaring quality of the composition is lost, and the work becomes like a Requiem papae Marcelli instead. So the Tallis Scholars hold the field for this work in super audio.


Mahler: Symphonies 1-10; Totenfeier; Das Lied Von Der Erde (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Mahler: Symphonies 1-10; Totenfeier; Das Lied Von Der Erde (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Mahler
Price: £80.99

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahler in Amsterdam, 4 Dec. 2012
Note: I obtained my copy of this set from Amazon France, where it first appeared.
Here from the RCO house label is only the second complete Mahler cycle to appear on video, following upon the very fine Bernstein cycle of the 1970's. Claudio Abbado came close to completing a video cycle, but is still shy a recording of the Eighth. The emphasis of this present collection is not upon a single conductor, but upon the Concertgebouworkest, widely considered one of the two finest Mahler orchestras in the world, alongside New York. Gustav Mahler himself conducted both orchestras and imbued them with his spirit. In Amsterdam, he conducted four of his symphonies, the First in 1903, the Fourth and Second in 1904 and the Fifth in 1906. Thus began the Mahler tradition of this house.
Mahler was befriended by long-time house conductor Willem Mengelberg, who here led the very first Mahler festival in May of 1920 and scheduled performances of the works continuously until the German invasion of 1940. There was only a five-year interruption of Mahler here, unlike the twelve-year interruption in Germany and the nine-year interruption in Austria (Mengelberg famously chided the Viennese for not playing Mahler any more when he guest conducted there during the war). Subsequent house conductors Van Beinum, Haitink, Chailly and Jansons have sustained the orchestra's commitment to Mahler; Haitink and Chailly both recorded esteemed complete Mahler cycles with them, and Chailly hosted a second Mahler festival in 1995.
For the centenary of Mahler's death, the orchestra presented their third cycle, in numerical order over the course of three seasons. Director emeritus Bernard Haitink conducts the Ninth Symphony; the current director Mariss Jansons conducts the Second, Third and Eighth. Veteran conductors Lorin Maazel and Pierre Boulez recorded their own Mahler cycles some years back, and now conduct the Sixth and Seventh, respectively. Up-and-coming conductors like Daniel Hardin and Fabio Luisi conduct the First and Das Lied von der Erde, respectively; Ivan Fischer conducts the Fourth, Daniele Gatti the Fifth. Eliahu Inbal conducts the Tenth in the recension by Deryck Cooke, thereby atoning for having included only the Adagio in his own Mahler cycle a quarter century ago. Only two of these men chose to conduct without a score in front of them--Fischer in the Fourth, and Gatti in the Fifth--both of whom had made prior recordings of the works assigned to them. The one odd omission from this set is past house director Chailly, but he was busy at the time setting up his own Mahler festival in Leipzig, where he tackled the Second and Eighth in a single season in 2011; perhaps he intends to film an entire cycle there, hopefully.
The set has no print booklet of any kind, and so lacks any information on Mahler's symphonies or these particular performances. All discs in the set share a peculiarity in the blu-ray mastering: when one selects a chapter, it arrives in fast-forward mode and one must push "play" to set things right. The eleventh disc has an additional oddity: this disc presents both the Totenfeier and Das Lied von der Erde, but the Totenfeier is not marked properly in the menu; when one selects "Symphony" one gets the Totenfeier, but when one selects the next item, one gets DLvdE. These problems are easily recognized and solved, however, so there is no harm done.
This cycle pays tribute not only to Mahler himself, but to this orchestra that has championed him for over a century, and to nine of the finest living Mahler conductors, several of whom have recorded complete cycles of their own. The boxed set is virtually an encyclopedia of the past half-century of Mahler performance, all filmed at a single location. Those looking to collect Mahler would do well to start here, and those who already own a lot of Mahler will find here a capstone for their collection.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2013 9:13 PM BST


Wagner: Parsifal Berlin 1992 (Euroarts: 2066738) [DVD] [2012]
Wagner: Parsifal Berlin 1992 (Euroarts: 2066738) [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Poul Elming
Price: £34.40

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming Glory, 28 Mar. 2012
With this production in October of 1992, Barenboim took the helm of the Staatsoper unter den Linden. In a review of the opening night for Opera News, James Helme Sutcliffe described the "miraculously subtle orchestral playing." For the better part of twenty years Barenboim's set has resided at my house in laserdisc format from the Warner label. Recently, a friend and I did an A/B comparison of a number of different audio and video releases of PARSIFAL, and we agreed that this set had the finest sound.
It is true that the action largely takes place in a gigantic bank vault, but much stranger things have happened lately. Kupfer's production is dark and non-traditional--but the combination works! Bright and non-traditional turn up gaudy, dark and traditional become depressing. (Of course, bright and traditional are welcome together any time, too!) The staging and action here do not detract from the fine musical qualities of this production.
One is happy to see that the work will be spread to three DVDs, signifying Euroart's commitment to a quality audio and video transfer. At this moment (March 27, 2012) the release does not yet appear for pre-sale on amazon.com (USA).
PS--As of April 8, 2012, the release is now listed on amazon USA as well.


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