- 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: N/A
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: EUROARTS
- Blu-ray Release Date: April 11, 2011
- List Price:
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)
Claudio Abbado contributes another chapter to this Mahler cycle with his hand-picked ensemble, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. The performance, dating from August 2005, brings a less frequently heard late Mahler work, the Symphony No. 7 in E Minor, the so called “Song of the Night,” to the intimate setting of this Swiss summer venue. The seventh symphony, written between 1904 and 1905, premiered in Prague in 1908. It has five movements:(1) Langsam – Allegro risoluto, ma non troppo; (2) Nachtmusik (I): Allegro moderato. Molto moderato (Andante); (3) Scherzo: Schattenhaft. Fließend aber nicht zu schnell; (4) Nachtmusik (II): Andante amoroso; (5) Rondo-Finale. There are substantial mood shifts between the almost-martial tempi of the first movement and the two dreamy Nachtmusik (Night Music) movements which feature cowbells, bird sounds, and mandolin and guitar solos. The final movement seems out of place, almost an after-thought, and contains take-offs on Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, Lehar’s Merry Widow, the Lutheran Hymn,”A Mighty fortress is our God,” and quotes from Mahler’s own Symphony No. 5. As with the previous entries in this Mahler series, music-making is at the highest level, evoked by a dean of current conductors, with highly complimentary videography and sound recording.
The Festival Hall is gorgeous and well portrayed by veteran director, Michael Beyer’s camera work. Spotlights on individual instruments are well done and images are crisp without being surreal. Maestro Abbado has animated face and hand movements, which are captured by occasional but not excessive close-up shots. Beyer tends to favor frequent cut-aways, certainly not a concert hall experience, but these add to the interest in what would be otherwise a very static video.
Sonically, the dts-HD Master Audio presentation is appropriately warm and well balanced. Orchestral details are well delineated without being clinical. The low end of the sound spectrum is clean and clear. The large-scale Finale is a block buster and Abbado, aided by the sound engineers, puts it right in your lap. As expected, the perspective is an orchestra row seat with an effective proscenium effect and minimal ambience in the surround channels.
Euroarts usually only provides trailers for their other featured performances and this disc was no exception. As this is one of Mahler’s lesser known works, it would have been great to get some more insights than those provided by the program booklet, but no dice.
The Definitive Word
It is an unmitigated pleasure to hear a work that I have loved for nearly 50 years and well before Gustav Mahler became a 20th century orchestral darling. Of course, the sonic quality of the first Mahler 7th that I owned was nowhere near the level of this disc. It was a revelation to hear so much detail that this complex work contains. This is due, in no small measure, to Maestro Abbado’s care in eliciting an evocative yet well-disciplined performance from his players. To my knowledge, this is an initial BD release and it makes a very strong case for this unjustly neglected masterpiece. For those who want a sharp contrast in styles, there is a standard DVD, featuring Leonard Bernstein and the Wiener Philharmoniker. Bernstein tends to go after dramatic effects, a tendency that tends not to wear as well over repeated hearings. Without doubt both video and audio qualities are far better with this Abbado BD. Despite the absence of extras, this is a brilliant performance that is equally well recorded. The bravos and standing ovation at the end echo my sentiments exactly!
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