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Mahler: Symphony No.4/Rückert-Lieder (Abbado): Blu-ray Review


  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), DTS-HD Master Audio (96kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: EUROARTS
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 16, 2010
  • List Price: $45.98

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BestBuy.com:
Magdalena Kozena/Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Claudio Abbado: Mahler - Symphony No. 4/Ruckert-Lieder -

Purchase Mahler: Symphony No. 4/ Rückert-Liedier on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:5/5]
The Performance
[Rating: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

(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:5/5]

The Lucerne Summer Festival has witnessed some great concerts since its opening in 1938 led by music legend Arturo Toscanini.  This concert, from August 2009, features Gustav Mahler’s music: The Rückert-Lieder and Symphony No. 4.  These two pieces, separated by nearly two decades, trace  the composer’s evolution as a creative genius. The 5 Rückert songs are introspective glimpses into Mahler’s heart and mind.  The contrasts between the luminous beauty of  “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (I am lost to the world)” and  the chilling premonitions of death in “Im Mitternacht (At midnight)” are perfectly exposed by the close collaboration of Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, and Italian  maestro Claudio Abbado.  Abbado began his distinguished career well before most of the orchestra members were born. He elicits a chamber orchestra effect during the neoclassical first movement of the Fourth Symphony.   The second movement, “Totendanz” (Dance of Death) contains a ghostly solo fiddler.  The third and longest movement, titled “Ruhevoll” (Restful) is a hymn-like expression of ineffable beauty. The work concludes with a child’s view of heaven’s delights, the song “Das himmlische leben” (The heavenly life). Although usually sung by a soprano, Kožená brings out this song’s intended innocence to perfection.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Lucerne Festival is housed in a modern but rather plainly outfitted hall with the orchestra on risers and plenty of obvious acoustic panels.  The camera work is deft and moves from panoramas to well-timed highlights of the solo players.  There is frequent cutting back to the maestro’s face with its near-beatific expression as if communicating to a higher power.  The same rapture is evident when Ms. Kožená receives her close-up shots.  The relative bright lighting helps with detail, natural skin tones and instruments’ surface colors.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio (96kHz/24-bit) is warm and up-front.  Surround sound fanciers will note that the hall effects are subtle at best, possibly due to the sound treatment previously noted.  Abbado’s tight control over the orchestra’s dynamics allows the sound engineers to capture the timbre of the solo instruments.  Kožená is heard to her best advantage with this scaled down approach.  This is particularly helpful in the delicate songs of the Ruckert cycle. The Fourth Symphony ends very quietly and the audience, dead quiet throughout, sits in rapt silence for nearly a minute before breaking into enthusiastic and well deserved applause.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

There are no supplemental interviews. Trailers for other performances in the Euroart catalog are included.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:5/5]

The Mahler 4th introduced me to this composer, 50 years ago. It remains one of his most accessible pieces for first-time listeners. This is the BD premiere of both works.  There are several DVD performances, including an excellent account led by Abbado and the Mahler Youth Orchestra, coupled with Schoenberg’s Pelleas et Melisande. The musicianship here is absolutely first rate, aided by superb videography and audio engineering. Like the hundreds in the audience, I was completely absorbed by the maestro’s deft touch and Kožená’s radiant singing. I do not award overall scores of “5” often. This is, simply stated, a must-have orchestral BD.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product]B00442M0S0[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Magdalena Kozena/Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Claudio Abbado: Mahler - Symphony No. 4/Ruckert-Lieder -

Purchase Mahler: Symphony No. 4/ Rückert-Liedier on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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

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