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Salzburg Festival Opening Concert 2011 [Wiener Philharmoniker/Boulez] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
  • Subtitles: French, German, English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1  (1x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 26, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
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]


The musical torch of Vienna was passed in the early 20th century from Gustav Mahler to Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and Arnold Schoenberg. This BD captures  the opening concert of the 2011 Salzburg Festival Concert and we are treated to a program that begins with a synthesis of Berg’s score for his unfinished opera, Lulu, along with a soprano solo by Anna Prohaska.  This is followed by Berg’s evocative concert aria, Der Wein, sung by soprano Dorothea Roschmann. The second half is devoted to Gustav Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied, an extended vocal tone poem for tenor, Johan Botha, soprano, Roschmann, and contralto, Anna Larsson. This piece, a mythical tale of fratricide, guilt, and retribution, takes its source from stories by the Grimm brothers and Ludwig Bechstein.

The opening concert at this Austrian music shrine is always a big deal, and this one pulls out most of the stops in terms of repertoire and supporting cast. Further, on the big Salzburg stage, legendary conductor Pierre Boulez extracts the very essence of these challenging and infrequently performed works.  Sound and vision recording is terrific.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

This is a stunning concert video with great capture of the Festival Hall and its trappings.  Video director Michael Beyer show us how to keep the cameras moving from panoramic to close up in time with the dramatic musical pulses of these large works.  Colors are beautiful and detail well managed, particularly the frequent instrumental portraits.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]


C Major favors DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0, but frankly I do not feel the loss of the 0.1 channel since these works have plenty of impact above my subwoofer settings of 80 Hz. Sound recordists involved here appear to have good knowledge of this venue and you get a tremendous sense of the scores. Hall ambience is well reproduced in the surround channels on the Master Audio track while the PCM stereo version, quite acceptable in its own right, is not as atmospheric.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]


Nothing here but the usual C Major trailers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

We owe a debt of gratitude to C Major for issuing this BD, not only as premieres of the program material, but for allowing us to see them as performed by superb soloists, orchestra and conductor. I am continually amazed to see how the then-86 year-old maestro, Pierre Boulez, gets his forces under control and evokes extraordinary vocal delivery by his soloists and chorus.  The effective performances of difficult works stems largely from Boulez’s experience as a modern composer as well as conductor.  The Berg pieces were considered avant-garde for their time, but now come across as quite romantic music nearly a century later. Mahler’s undeservedly neglected cantata is unlikely to receive a better reading in the foreseeable future. Although it was created early in his composing career, Boulez draws out foreshadows of the genius that was to appear in his symphonies.  For those of you coming to this music for the first time, this BD makes a strong case for their being in your music library and getting repeated viewings.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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