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Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5; Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade [Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nelsons] 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 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 29, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

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

In a recent series of Blu-rays from C Major come a pair featuring the young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. This first release is a concert recorded in September 2011 and filled with musical treasures. Nelsons leads his Dutch forces through a brisk rendition of Beethoven’s overture, “The Ruins of Athens,” followed in suit by a masterful collaboration with piano soloist Yefim Bronfman in Beethoven’s final piano concerto, No. 5. Bronfman throws in an encore, the Chopin etude in F major. The proceedings heat up considerably with a reading of Rimsky-Korsakov’s extended symphonic tone poem, Scheherzade, Nelsons and the RCO leave the audience fully sated with Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in A flat major.  The C Major crew contribute superb sights and sounds, making for a generous evening of top-rank music-making.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The level of videography that we are getting from a number of the European video houses is quite high, and this performance does not lower the bar or disappoint. Director Ute Feudel, a new name to me, gives us terrific balance between individual members of the orchestra, pianist Bronfman, and the animated stick work of maestro Nelsons.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

It is interesting to compare different labels sound engineers’ take of the same venue, Lucerne Festival Hall. The C Major crew creates a more forward sound than I have heard from Accentus in a recently reviewed BD of the Brucker Fifth Symphony (Claudio Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra).  The piano tone and dynamics are simply gorgeous; you get to hear every note, clear as bell, a tribute to microphony and soloist Bronfman. The sonic wash of Rimsky-Korsakov’s best known major work is luxurious and entrancing. The dts Master Audio 5.1 format is distinctly superior to its 2-channel counterpart and gives a good feel for hall acoustics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Nothing doing here.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Even if you already own Blu-ray performances of these two well known masterpieces, I do not think that you will get either one laid down much better than is done here. Bronfman is a powerhouse pianist who knows when to pull out and to rein in the stops. Maybe not note-perfect (but what live performance of thousands of notes is?), surely exciting to the nth degree. The Chopin etude is not slighted either, being treated like a little masterwork. Nelsons is one of the rising stars of the conducting world, following at age 33 in the footsteps of his compatriot Mariss Jansons. Giving a conductor a world class orchestra like the RCO is like giving a Strad or Guanieri to violinist. Nelsons makes the most of this occasion and, to use a baseball analogy, hits these big works out of the proverbial park. This BD will give viewers just cause to rejoice that there are performers like Bronfman and Nelsons out there today making fabulous music which can be enjoyed any time in the comfort of home. C Major, please give us more like this one!

Additional Screen Captures

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

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