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Joshua Bell: Nobel Prize Concert 2010 [Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0,  DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: French, German
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Accentus
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 31, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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Nobel Prize Concert 2010: Joshua Bell/Sakari Oramo -

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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:3/5]

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 Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Nobel Prize Concert is an annual highlight of  the Nobel Prize awards week in Stockholm, Sweden.   Each year’s program features the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and world-renown soloists and ensembles. The 2010 concert was no exception with principal conductor, Sakari Oramo, leading the Royal Philharmonic. The program focused on American violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell, performing one of the staples of the violin repertory, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D Major. The generous concert began with Beethoven’s Third Leonore Overture and concluded with the mighty Sibelius Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major.  As befits the importance of this occasion, there is top-flight music-making. While I was not previously familiar with maestro Oramo, it was immediately obvious that he knew his forces well, had excellent control over the musical pulse, and gave his soloist excellent support. Most Bell performances  are self-recommending and this was no exception. The Tchaikovsky is a “heart-on-the-sleeve” piece that suits violinist Bell to a tee. Of the accompanying two works, particular note should be given to Oramo’s affinity with fellow Finn, Jean Sibelius’s symphonic masterpiece.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Director Michael Beyer, a familiar figure on the classical concert scene, has risen to the top of this field. The videography here is consistently magnificent with dramatic lighting and deft balance between the full orchestral forces, conductor Oramo and the very active soloist Bell. Visual details of the musicians and their instruments are among the best that I have ever seen.  This is a treat considering the beauty of Bell’s violin, a 1713 Huberman Stradivarius. While those  inhabiting the royal box certainly had a good view of the proceedings, lucky viewers of this Blu-ray disc will enjoy an even better seat!

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is a concert that is annually broadcast both nationally and internationally under the aegis of the Nobel Foundation.  Consequently, those involved in the sound recording have had plenty of experience with this hall. This certainly shows in the excellent coverage of the orchestral forces where the individual instrumental voices are clearly heard. Take as examples the bassoon solo in the first movement of the Sibelius symphony, the brass chorale with tympani concluding its second movement, and the pizzicato opening of the third movement. In the Tchaikovsky concerto, the soloist is up-front but well balanced against the supporting players. Having heard this piece a number of times in large halls, this is a most realistic recreation of a big-time violin concerto.  Surround sound is very discrete and gives a good sense of the hall acoustics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

There are very brief but insightful interviews with Joshua Bell, Sakari Oramo, and  Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Laureate for literature. I would have loved some coverage of the Nobel Prize Concert itself, its history, background, and brief vignettes from previous years.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

This BD offering sets the bar extremely high for competing future BD versions of these works. The Nobel Prize Concert is a prime example of synergy between conductor, soloist, orchestra, director, and the video and audio engineers who supported these efforts. The artistic values are high and with respect to both sound and picture, this disc approaches reference level.  Classical music lovers of all backgrounds will find that this concert gives an outstanding account of three orchestral masterpieces from different eras and national origins.  While for many, the main attraction of this concert will be the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, I can assure you that the Sibelius 5th symphony is as good an account of this incredibly moving  work as I have ever heard. The end credits suggest that the audience was in full agreement with my opinion. Accentus Music is newcomer to the video business having begun operations in 2010.  If this  Nobel  Prize Concert disc is any indication of their growing catalog, then I will  look forward eagerly to more of their offerings in the future.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004SRTKO8[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Nobel Prize Concert 2010: Joshua Bell/Sakari Oramo -

Purchase Joshua Bell: Nobel Prize Concert 2010 on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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:3/5]

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