BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 5 in B flat
Lucerne Festival Orch/Claudio Abbado, cond.
ACCENTUS DVD VIDEO TT: ACC 10243 (Blu Ray) TT: 80:33
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MOZART: IN 3D: Clarinet Quintet, K. 581. Horn Quintet, K. 407. String Quartet, K. 160.
Ruokai Chen, clarinet; Corey Klein, horn; The Old City String Quartet
AIX RECORDS DVD VIDEO 86065 TT: 53 min.
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NEW YEAR'S CONCERT 2012
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. Music by Verdi, Puccini, Belliini, Mozart, Mascagni, Donizetti, and Ponchielli.
Jessica Pratt, soprano; Walter Fraccaro, tenor; Alex Esposito, bass; Giuseppe Picone and Laura Pigozzo, dancers; Ballet of Teatro alla Scala; Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro La Fenice/Diego Matheuz, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD VIDEO TT: 105 min.
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Here is yet another magnificent performance with Claudio Abbado and the select Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 recorded August 19-20, 2011 in the Concert Hall of KKL Luzerne. It is a pleasure to watch the distinguished musicians, from major orchestras, devoted to carrying out Abbado's masterful interpretation. Attention to detail is extraordinary and, needless to say, the music is presented with the ultimate in precision and beauty. The triumphant final pages of the symphony are presented with stunning power. Surely this is among the finest of all Bruckner recordings. Video and audio are state-of-the-art. Don't miss this!

Aix Records is a company that focus on the highest quality state-of-the-art audio and DVD productions. Here is a disk of Mozart chamber music filmed in HD 3D and recorded in 5.1 surround sound. It offers exemplary performances by the youthful Old City String Quartet which consists of violinists Bryan Lee and Joel Link, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, and cellist Camden Shaw, all graduates of Philadelphia's Curtis Institute. They are joined by clarinetist Ruokai Chen and hornist Corey Klein; Klein was the project director as well. The goal was to give listeners/viewers a totally realistic concert experience. The fine performances were filmed in 3D-High Def video (1280 x 720) which gives extraordinary clarity and definition, with audio programmable in 5.1 sound as well as 2.0 stereo. You have your choice of "stage" or "audience" or a combination of the two. The 3D does indeed put the viewer right on stage and often next to performers. Audio aficionados surely should check out this enterprising company: AIX RECORDS

The New Year's Concert 2012 from La Fenice is rather strange in some ways, in programming as well as production. There is no DVD menu provided and even though the DVD jacket says there are two audio formats (stereo and 5.1 surround) there is no screen option to choose one, nor are there any subtitles. Carlo Gabliabue directed the video and makes sure we often see the beautiful inside of Teatro La Fenice in Venice, with many views of the mistletoe-covered chandeliers. Produced by RAI, the program begins with a brief outdoor ballet sequence that has nothing to do with the concert. To open a supposedly festive concert with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 seems an odd choice. Program notes by Marcus A. Woelfle read like a a publicists' review advising us how great the performances are, which sometimes they are not. A major point is made to say that the conductor, Diego Matheuz, who last year was appointed principal conductor of Teatro La Fenice, is a product of Venezuela's Il Sistema. He has been championed by Sir Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, and obviously will have a fine career. Of the three soloists, best of all is baritone Alex Esposito who has only one solo, Madamina from Don Giovanni. Tenor Walter Fraccario sings in Italy including La Scala, and will be Calaf this coming season in the Met's Turandot, but does not impress on this video in shaky performances of music from Tosca and Cavalleria Rusticana. Soprano Jessica Pratt fares better in arias from La sonnambula and Linda di Chamounix, and all three are heard in the concluding drinking song from La traviata. Audio is satisfactory (although I couldn't access it in 5.1), video well managed, but this is hardly a festive occasion.

R.E.B. (June 2012)

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