DVORÁK: Slavonic Dances, Op. 46. Slavonic Dances, Op. 72.
MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of a Thusand." Helen
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
VIVALDI: Le Quatro Stagioni
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique."
Last December this site mentioned a set of nine issues, eight DGG,
one on Decca,
all advertised as "high quality pure audio" Blu Ray releases
(REVIEW). This series, in spite of its major
disappointment (no surround sound even
when available in the masters), is a worthy effort to enable collectors'
ability to hear recordings, old and new,
permitting us to hear exactly what was on the original sourc. The first
set of blu ray audio disks included several early recordings that weren't
sonic showcases to begin with (Karajan's
Mahler and Beethoven)—so what is the point of including them?
There are two modern recordings in the new batch, Iván Fischer's Budapest set of Slavonic Dances of Dvorák, recorded in March and May 1999. This is not an original Decca set; originally it was issued on Philips a dozen years ago and praised on this site (REVIEW), and a few years ago the same recording was issued on Channel Classics. Both of these were in rich surround sound; unfortunately the Decca issue is only two-channel stereo. It is incomprehensible to me why producers would not include multiple channels on blu ray issues when they are available. So it goes. The other relatively recent recording is the Vivaldi chesnut, played here with only 9 performers inclding the soloist, made in May 2004. It is a bit of a family affair: cellist Maarten Jensen is her brother, harpsichordist Jan Jensen her father. Janine is recognized as one of the finest young violinists today and her career is flourishing. She also seems to be attempting to make a sex symbol of herself; there are several voluptuous photos in the disk booklet. It's unfortunate there isn't more music. Playing time is brief (39:04)!. Jansen has given many concerts with musicians involved in this recording; surely they could have included more music.
Gergiev's Pathétique with the Vienna Philharmonic, recorded in the Sofiensaal September 2004, is unexceptional sonically. There is a murky sound to mid-range, low bass is undefined; it is difficult to understand why Decca elected to include this in their blu ray series. Should you wish to experience Gergiev's Pathétique, surely the way to do it is his 1995 Philips performance with the Mariinsky Orchestra available on Philipe DVD audio in surround sound (REVIEW).
R.E.B. (March 2014)