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Weill/Ibert/Berg [Baton Rouge Symphony Chamber Players] Blu-ray Audio Review

weill-ibert--berg-baton-rouge-symphnoy-chamber-players-blu-ray-audio-cover

 

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(The below TheaterByte screen captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray Disc and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Album

[Rating:4.5/5]

The three concertos that make up this Blu-ray Audio disc’s program are linked by their 1920’s origin, their three-movement structure, and their use of a wind ensemble to support the soloists. Kurt Weill’s Violin Concerto was an early post-graduate work that preceded his more famous stage works like The Three-Penny Opera, Street Scene, and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The Cello Concerto, Jacques Ibert’s contribution to the program is a brief piece, lasts a mere thirteen minutes but contains all of the clever Ibertian touches that have made his music so popular. Alban Berg’s double concerto for violin and piano, the longest work on the program was inspired by and dedicated to his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg.  In each of these concertos, there is more than a hint of this era’s popular music, American jazz, heard in the rhythms, dissonances, and bluesy notes that frequently crop up. Although these works were penned within two years of each other, one can readily discern the unique voice that each young composer already possessed.

Timothy Muffitt, the veteran conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony, takes his well-honed forces through these pieces with the precision that they require. The maestro and his wind band are joined by three expert soloists, violinist John Haspel Gilbert, cellist George Work, and pianist Dmitri Shteinberg. The ensemble work is first-rate, exemplified by the par inter pares relationships between each soloist and their fellow musicians.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Not having 7.1 capability, I compared the 2-channel and 5.1 channel versions (both at the higher 192 kHz sampling frequency). I am happy to report that they both offered terrific sound with the latter producing a larger sound picture with greater specificity of instrumental placement.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

As I have found with previous entries in the Sono Luminus music series, a red-book CD is included as a bonus. While not up to Blu-ray standards, it is still a very good sounding recording. The program booklet gives us a history of the orchestra, the soloists and conductor, along with extensive notes on each work presented.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is the Blu-ray debut of these three 20th-century masterworks, albeit there is plenty of competition from standard CD versions featuring some of the top solo performers and orchestral forces in the world. While this disc may not supplant performances by the likes of cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, violinist Isaac Stern, or pianist Peter Serkin, the present accounts are all well played and nicely capture the respective idioms of their composers. The Blu-ray Audio’s added sonic advantage (which is considerable when compared with two-channel standard resolution CDs) should make this a most attractive means of becoming acquainted with concertos that are not performed as frequently as I would like. Thanks to Sono Luminus for putting them together for the first time on a single disc that is so generously filled.

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Purchase on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Album
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

 

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