7.7 C
New York
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Advertisement

Hans Pfitzner: Palestrina [Bayerische Staatsoper] Blu-ray Review

pfitzner-palestrina-blu-ray-cover

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Running Time: 205 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below 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]


Hans Pfitzner was nearly an exact contemporary of his more famous colleague, Richard Strauss, living well into the 20th century. Palestrina, premiering in 1917, owes much more to the previous century with its lush romantic score. A sprawling work, running nearly three and a half hours, this opera is rarely performed outside of its native Germany.  This 2009 performance comes by way the Bayerische Staatsoper and is the only video version currently available.

The story is based on the life the famous 16th century Italian composer, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and his struggle to keep polyphonic music alive in spite of the Catholic church’s efforts to suppress this art form. The opera opens in Palestrina’s home (Christopher Ventris). Silla, a music student (Claudia Mahnke) and Ighino (Christiane Karg) are playing “new” music when Cardinal Borromeo (Falk Struckmann) arrives to tell Palestrina that the Pope wishes to reinstate Gregorian chant.  Only an outstanding new mass written in polyphonic style can change this decision when presented to the Council of Trent.  Palestrina claims that his creative powers died along with his wife but Borromeo sees this as heresy and threatens the composer. Later, Palestrina is visited by the shades of past composers, a choir of angels and his dead wife. Now filled with joy and inspiration, the composer begins to write. When Silla and Ighino return, they find a completed mass.

The Council of Trent convenes and Borromeo tells them of Palestrina’s refusal to compose the polyphonic mass. Novagerio (John Daszak), a papal legate, pronounces a death sentence on the now imprisoned Palestrina. As the Council debates the issue of the Mass, it is disrupted by the unruly behavior of those in attendance. Meanwhile, Ighino has turned the Mass over to Vatican, allowing his father to be released. Pope Pius IV (Peter Rose) finally hears the Mass (Missa Pape Marcelli) and pronounces it a success. Palestrina is appointed music director to the Sistine Chapel, Borromeo asks his forgiveness, and all ends well.

This production, directed by Christian Stuckl and staged by Stefan Hageneier, features a stark black and white set with some neat special effects that will be described later.  The Bayerisches Staatsorchester, led by Simone Young, and a very strong vocal group do absolute justice to this marvelous music.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

As mentioned, the stage is relatively stark but the lighting effects, costumes and make up are more than enough to compensate. The color palette is bold, occasionally garish, suggesting a dream or fantasy, in keeping with the work’s theme as a “musical legend.” In sharp contrast, we see most of the characters with “white-face” makeup, something more associated with a comedy than with a serious work. Karina Fibich’s video direction features lots of close ups and the cameras are consistently up to the task. Detail is nearly perfect and we get a real sense of the live performance. There are some special effects, like the suspended angel in Act I, the endlessly long limo in Act II and the larger than lifesize puppets of the dead wife or the Pope that will tickle some viewers’ fancies and while others will find them hokey.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]


This is a big work, in the manner of Strauss or Wagner, with a wealth of magnificent passages. The dts HD Master Audio 5.0 soundtrack gets us this sizeable sound, the small orchestral details as well as the big voices on the stage. The two-channel alternative is very good surrendering just a bit of space.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]


There is a nice featurette on the “making of Palestrina” and a program booklet with useful notes about the opera along with a brief synopsis.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]


Palestrina falls into the seemingly growing category of works that are unjustly neglected. While some have attributed this to Pfitzner’s open relationship with the Nazi party, I think that issue has been pushed aside by the enormous demands that this opera makes. Any production mush surmount a long list of potential difficulties. The cast is huge with more than twenty featured roles. The orchestration places as much stress on the players as any Wagnerian piece. Then, there is the matter of keeping up the pace as much of this drama is rather static.  This performance gets as many of those elements right as we are likely to find on today’s operatic stage. For those who will be coming to this work for the first time, I cannot think of a better way to access the sights and sounds of Palestrina.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”ca” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-20″]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Palestrina (Bayerische Staatsoper) - Blu-ray Disc
Purchase Palestrina on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles on Amazon.com


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”ca” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-20″]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B00AKGA19Y[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Palestrina (Bayerische Staatsoper) - Blu-ray Disc
Purchase Palestrina on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles on Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Facebooktwitter

 

 

Advertisement

Related Articles

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.

The Irishman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated (Best Director) late career crime world epic gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

299FansLike
0FollowersFollow
0FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.

The Irishman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated (Best Director) late career crime world epic gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Criterion gives us a brilliant new 4K restoration on Blu-ray of Jim Jarmusch's 1999's indie classic about a loner assassin who follows the way of the samurai.

Westworld: Season Three — The New World (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The third season of HBO's flagship sci-fi series sends the Hosts into the real world for a somewhat disappointing eight episodes but a magnificent 4K Ultra HD release.
%d bloggers like this: