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Die 12 Cellisten [Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker] Blu-ray Review

Posted August 25th, 2012 by Lawrence D. Devoe, MD

die 12 cellisten berliner philharmoniker BD Cover 267x338 Die 12 Cellisten [Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker] Blu ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese, Chinese
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

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Overall
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The Film
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Video Quality
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Audio Quality
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Supplemental Materials
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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)

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The Film

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Die 12 Cellisten (The 12 Cellists) are members of the world-renowned Berliner Philharmoniker. In 1972, Boris Blacher composed Blues for 12 Cellists and this ensemble was born. This BD celebrates 40 years of performing as an ensemble. Over the decades, this group has included a wide range of repertoire as reflected by the current program that features mostly 20th century works, including film pieces by Michel Legrand (“Une femme et un homme”), Herman Hupfeld (“As Time Goes By”), Ennio Morricone (“Once Upon a Time in the West”), tango-inspired pieces by Astor Piazzola, and more serious works by Jean Francaix,  Claude Debussy, and Gabriel Faure. Of course, they finish with an homage to The Beatles (“Yesterday”). Soprano Annette Dasch supplies the vocals for the Debussy and Ravel songs and the Edith Piaf signature tune (“La Vie en Rose”) while trumpeter Till Bronner graces Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight.” Those who might consider that twelve cellos would be eleven too many need to discard any preconceived notions about what makes for great music. Here are pieces literally tailor-made for this group with enough variety to hold any viewer’s interest for the 105-minute running time. If this were not enough, a one hour documentary on the group with interviews, snapshots of performance venues around the world, including Beijing, adds fascinating information. Well directed and beautifully recorded, this disc provides a truly spell-binding experience.

Video Quality

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It is hard to praise director Michael Beyer’s work enough.  What could have been a rather dull viewing experience in the hands of others becomes a terrific watch with just enough variety in camera work, shoot angles, and movement. The color palette is beautiful to behold.

Audio Quality

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The cello is a warm instrument so very close to the timbre of the human voice that it truly sings. Here the audio engineers work their magic and give us a wonderful idea of how beautiful these large instruments really sound.  While the 2.0 PCM soundtrack is satisfactory, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version is spacious and conveys the hall and instrumental details so much better.

Supplemental Materials

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Finally, a documentary that is worth its weight. I would almost recommend viewing this first so that you get the behind-the-scenes depiction of what it takes to bring off such world class performances. Getting to know the players and a sense of the life on the concert platform.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

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Concert BDs like Die 12 Cellisten come along all too infrequently. Here are superb instrumentalists, each a virtuoso, playing together like an extended family. The program is varied and while it contains a number of favorite short works, like the Faure Pavane or the Ravel Vocalise, the real discoveries are the pop pieces that show how adeptly this group functions in crossover mode. While it is hard to pick favorites from so many good pieces, I must confess that the 12’s rendition of “As Time Goes By” just did me in. The cameos contributed by soprano Dasch and hornman Bronner just made everything even better. Really, not a weak link in the repertory chain, this concert is offered in nearly as good as it gets videography and sound recording.  I would recommend that you let your curiosity be your guide and get this BD before it disappears (as many specialty discs do) from the current catalog. You will be rewarded well beyond your expectations.

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Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
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The Film
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Video Quality
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Audio Quality
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Supplemental Materials
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Tags: Berliner Philharmoniker, Classical Music, Die 12 Cellisten, EuroArts

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