8.3 C
New York
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Advertisement

Chamber Music Palisades: Shostakovich/Debussy/Brockman Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit); LPCM 2.0 (96kHz/24-bit)
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Label: AIX
  • List Price: $34.98

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]

Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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:4.5/5]

I’ve been anticipating these Blu-ray releases from AIX ever since I hade the opportunity to interview the label’s founder, Mark Waldrep, a couple of years ago on the subject of AIX entering the Blu-ray market. He was kind enough to send along some pre-production samples of their forthcoming releases, one of which contained an excerpt from this Chamber Music Palisades release. So, before receiving the final product in the post, I already knew that I would be in for a bit of a treat.

What I wasn’t prepared for right away, however, was the odd choice of musical pairings on this debut Blu-ray release. At first, coupling Shostakovich and Debussy seemed like a rather odd choice to me. The former is usually paired up with someone along the lines of Tchaikovsky or Scnhnittke, the latter, usually Ravel or Massenet.

My concerns were quickly assuaged once the performances began. The Chamber Music Palisades pensive interpretation of Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, Op. 57 has become one of my favorite contemporary recordings of the piece. Composed by Shostakovich as strictly a piece to be performed by the composer himself, it has always has an inward leaning in its minor key explorations and perhaps a freedom that Shostakovich would not capture fully in his music again. I don’t know that the Chamber Music Palisades are completely successful in putting that across in this interpretation, but they do show a strong grip on the language of Shostakovich.

Moving on to the second major piece on this release, Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, the ensemble’s interpretation is less flowery and impressionistic than most would be for a Debussy piece, which aids the piece in coupling with the Shostakovich on this release. With that being said, they certainly do not lack flair, and the Debussy from Palisades is an engaging wisp of a performance that both floats and shows significant weight.

New to me and perhaps to most listeners will be Feast of Fives by composer Jane Brockman, which closes out this strong sitting from the Chamber Music Palisades. Brockman’s piece revolves around a five-note structure and was specifically commissioned by the Palisades Chamber Ensemble. They play it with the same authority as they do the previous works and it acts as a solid ending to what is another in a long line of superb high-resolution releases from AIX.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The focus of this release is really the audio and not the video content. The video program presented on this AIX recording is meant more as a bonus, an intimate peek into the recording session, rather than a full-on performance capture from an audience perspective. As such the 1080i/60 AVC/MPEG-4 HD video is quite serviceable. It is detailed enough to pickup intricate markings in the throw rugs scattered on the studio floor, the strings and scratches on each instrument, and lines on flesh. Black levels are a bit greyish, but flesh tones are natural enough.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Each performance is given three separate high-resolution mixes for the listener to choose from. There are two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit) options and a LPCM 96kHz/24-bit for those who prefer their music in 2-channel only.

The 5.1 mixes are done from two perspectives, a “stage” mix, which puts the listener right in the center of the performers and fully utilizes all of the speakers more discretely, and a more traditional “audience” mix, which relegates the surround channels to ambience only.

Whichever program one chooses, AIX have provided an appropriately intimate sounding recording for these chamber pieces. Rather than slathering the instrumentation in oodles of reverberation, the sound is a more up-close, warm, and “woodsy” sound. It is full in the midrange without being boomy and clean. The dynamic range is wide without being drastic, while high frequencies never veer off into the land of our canine friends.

To further extrapolate on the surround mixes offered up by AIX, I have always had a preference for classical pieces in surround over their 2-channel counterparts. When it comes to “stage” mixes versus “audience” mixes, however, I have no clear preference. I, unlike many classical enthusiasts, admittedly, am not set against the stage mix, however.  I find my appreciation for one or the other can vary depending on the material. In this instance, I have a clear preference for the “stage” mix on this release’s Shostakovich piece. I find its closer sounding, warmer and more detailed soundstage somehow appropriate to the composer’s music and to the performance of the Chamber Music Palisades. Moving on to the Debussy, however, my preference flips to the “audience” mix. Somehow the more distant, ambient sound works better with the impressionistic music of the composer.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

The only true supplement provided on this release is a 5.1 channel test tone track for help balancing your surround system.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

AIX have entered the Blu-ray arena with an exceptionally strong release from Chamber Music Palisades, continuing the label’s trend of providing great performances in high-resolution multichannel. We wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Additional Screen Captures:

Join the Discussion on Our Forum

Advertisement

Related Articles

HBO Original: The Undoing (TV Series Review)

David E. Kelley gives us an open-and-shut murder case that will be unlikely to fool most of its viewers with The Undoing.

FX Original Black Narcissus (TV Series Review)

A buttoned-up remake of the classic 'Black Narcissus' in the form of a 3-episode series that portrays the physical and emotional struggle of English nuns to establish a school in a remote palace in the Himalayas.

Perry Mason: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

A complex neo-noir origin story for the famous criminal defense attorney gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
723FollowersFollow
- 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

HBO Original: The Undoing (TV Series Review)

David E. Kelley gives us an open-and-shut murder case that will be unlikely to fool most of its viewers with The Undoing.

FX Original Black Narcissus (TV Series Review)

A buttoned-up remake of the classic 'Black Narcissus' in the form of a 3-episode series that portrays the physical and emotional struggle of English nuns to establish a school in a remote palace in the Himalayas.

Perry Mason: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

A complex neo-noir origin story for the famous criminal defense attorney gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Popeye: 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent release on Blu-ray of this long maligned but still fun to watch film.

The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy is arriving for the first time on 4K Ultra HD remastered in Dolby Vision and overseen by Peter...
%d bloggers like this: