VIVALDI: L'Estro Armonico, Op. 3 12 Concertos for violins and string orchestra - Vol. 2
Stefano Montanari, Fiorenza De Donatis, Paolo Zinzani, Laura Mirri, violins; Mauro Valli, cello; Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone, cond.
ARTS MUSIC DVD AUDIO 45003-6 TT: 54:02 (5.1 channel)

KORNGOLD: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Moscow Symphony Orch/William Stromberg, cond.
MARCO POLO DVD AUDIO 5.220501 TT: 82:43 (5.1 channel)

The Arts Music audio DVD is superb in every way but one. There are countless recordings of Vivaldi's 12 concertos from his Opus 3 but this one surely is as fine as any. The ensemble Accademia Bizantina was founded n 1983 for the purpose of original instrument performances of varied repertory. Luciano Berio and Riccardo Muti are on the organization's Honorary Committee, and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone has been musical director since 1996. These magnificent performances were recorded in March 2001 in Sala del Refettorio, Museo di San Vitale, Ravenna, using advanced 24-bt . 96 kHz technology. Obviously the recording site was resonant, reflected in the rich sounds heard on this recording. The problem? This full-price DVD audio disk contains only six of the twelve concertos with a playing time of only 54:02. Easily several more could—and should—have been included.

Marco Polo's DVD offers the complete score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold for the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood. The first commercial recording of music from the film was in 1961on Warner Bros. produced by the composer's son, George Korngold, in Munich. In 1972 the late Charles Gerhardt recorded an excerpt from Robin Hood, and a few years later recorded several more, all included in RCA's Classic Film Score series, a total of 12:20 of music (see FEATURE). In 1983 Varese Sarabande recorded 43 minutes of the score—but now we have almost twice as much music thanks to score restorations by John Morgan. The music is not of consistent quality, but it's a welcome addition to the catalog. Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony play well enough, but don't expect the grandeur of the Gerhardt Robin Hood recordings (issued on two now discontinued RCA/BMG CDs: 7890 contained the March of the Merry Men and Battle; 0912 contained Archery Tournament, Escape from the Garden, Robin and Lady Marian, Coronation Procession). . The sound is big and wide-range, entirely satisfying if not particularly "surround." There is a track by track description of action. Film expert Rudy Behlmer wrote informative notes for this release and has a great suggestion: this recording is an ideal complement to the newly restored Adventures of Robin Hood Warner Bros. DVD package on the occasion of the picture's 65th anniversary.

R.E.B. (March 2004)