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Richard Strauss: Lieder; Eine Alpensinfonie [Renee Fleming/Thielemann/Wiener Philharmoniker] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz)
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 12, 2012
  • List Price: $24.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:4.5/5]

Richard Strauss was the Austrian composer of his generation and this concert from the 2011 Salzburg Festival features one of his massive tone poems, Eine Alpensinfonie, and a vocal recital consisting of four orchestral songs and an aria from Arabella. The program is in good hands, beginning with the Wiener Philharmoniker, probably the leading Strauss ensemble in the world, under the knowing leadership of maestro Christian Thielemann. The cause for the vocal program is further aided by star soprano Renee Fleming who has had a long relationship with the Strauss repertory. Director Michael Beyer lends outstanding videography to the proceedings making for a great watch as well as spectacular listen.

The major work on the program, an Alpensinfonie, covers a complete day in the Alps mountains, beginning and ending with evening, between which are reflected the varied scenes, as well as some of the hazards of a mountain trek. A very atmospheric work, as is the case with most of Strauss’s symphonic poems, it has all of the stops are pulled out, including a wind machine in the storm on the mountain section and an organ in one of the concluding sections.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The videography is just short of sensational, giving viewers an exciting sense of place and performers. The balance between ensembles and solo players is ideal. Director Beyer puts viewers in the orchestra and the details are superb. Camera work for Ms. Fleming’s recital give us a very intimate view of this very photogenic singer. Maestro Thielemann, an animated but under control conductor, gets his fair share of glamour views as well.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]


Balances between voice and orchestra, a critical issue for Strauss who favors big orchestral sound are outstanding.  You get to hear all of what soprano Fleming has to offer and, even in this late period in her career, it is still compelling. Conductor Thielemann has a knack for eliciting the “inner” voices of large scores, and this performance is no exception. The audio engineers do full service to the music and we get to hear it on the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track from a very good seat in the house. Check out the wind machine in the storm sequence, a typical Strauss sound effect touch. The ambience is subtle but definitely there, particularly in comparison to the 2.0 PCM track.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Nothing doing here, but given the great program, I did not feel short-changed (although a photo tour of the Alps would have been nice).

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is a welcome BD, the premiere for all of the works contained therein. Eine Alpensinfonie might not be Strauss at his most inspired, but it is still a potent piece that will be enjoyed by those who are new to it. The magic moment in this piece, and it is permitted to skip to it if you are impatient, is the section, “At the Summit,” with its potent brass chorale. For me, the opportunity to see one of today’s greatest singers present a recital of pieces that seem tailor-made for her voice is reason enough to get this BD. Supported by outstanding video and audio production, this one’s a must for your classical Blu-ray library.

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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