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Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain [Achucarro/Rattle] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD-Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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BestBuy.com:
Joaquin Achucarro: Nights in the Gardens of Spain/Recital at the Teatro Real in Madrid -

Purchase Joaquin Achucarro: Nights in the Gardens of Spain; Recital at the Teatro Real, Madrid on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Performance

[Rating:4/5]

With the passing of Alicia de Larrocha, Joaquin Achucarro has assumed the mantle of Spain’s leading pianist. This disc of mostly Spanish and French piano repertoire shows that Senor Achucarro has got impressionist music in his DNA. This 2009 program begins with a performance of Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, with the soloist capably accompanied by maestro Simon Rattle and his Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. From the performances that I have seen featuring this conductor and ensemble, it is at once obvious that they can manage symphonic music of virtually any provenance. Although the recording does not give particular prominence to the piano, the synergy between soloist and orchestra is exemplary. The second half of the program is a brilliant recital, given in Madrid’s Teatro Real, of Spanish favorites from Albeniz (Navarra), de Falla (Hommage; Fantasia beatica), and Granados (La Maya y la Ruisenor) and French showpieces of Ravel (Gaspard de la Nuit, Valses Nobles et Sentimentales), Debussy (La Puerto del Vino, Le Soir dans le Grenade), with Scriabin’s Nocture as a chaser.  For fans of old school pianism, does this disc ever deliver las mercancias or the goods!

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

First of all, you should be alerted that the Berlin half of the program is filmed rather than videoed. This results in a much softer image with noticeable motion artifacts from the players. The situation improves dramatically with the solo recital from Madrid where the closeups of pianist Achucharro and his instrument are beautifully done. Solo piano recitals are challenging for videographers since there is little if any stage action so there has to be judicious alternation of closeups and more distant cutaways. Fortunately, that is well accomplished here by director  Angel Luis Ramirez.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Again, the audio quality of the two program halves varies considerably by venue. While the Berliner Philharmonie is no slouch as an orchestral hall, the recording engineers give a rather distant perspective to the proceedings and this undermines the potential advantages of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The good news is that the solo piano recital receives a superb recording complete with piano overtones and a real sense of presence.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

As is EuroArt’s wont, there are trailers for other EA videos but nothing about these performances. Many viewers outside of Spain may be totally unfamiliar with Joaquin Achucarro and I, for one, would have enjoyed at least an interview about his career and interests.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Regardless of my reservations about the recording qualities of the Berlin Philharmonic portion of this program, there are none about the musical collaboration between the Berliners, Sir Simon Rattle, and Sr. Joaquin Achucarro. This Nights in the Gardens of Spain gives viewers an excellent performance of a favorite piano “concerto” cast in the form of a tone poem. The “Falla and Friends” solo recital from Madrid brings this BD to another level entirely.  Having grown up with 24/7 piano playing by a mother trained as a concert pianist, I have life-long familiarity with this instrument and its repertoire. Achucarro tackles some pretty formidable works like the “Scarbo” movement from Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, generally accepted as one of the great knuckle-busters in the literature. While I have heard technically more brilliant performances of this piece, I do not recall one that is more musically appealing or less apparently effortful. This observation could well be applied to any or all of the rest of the program.  I would recommend that those coming to this Achucarro BD start with the solo recital and anticipate being mesmerized by this outstanding soloist as was I.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B0055ISAHC[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B0055ISAHC[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Joaquin Achucarro: Nights in the Gardens of Spain/Recital at the Teatro Real in Madrid -

Purchase Joaquin Achucarro: Nights in the Gardens of Spain; Recital at the Teatro Real, Madrid on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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