André Cluytens & Emil Gilels (EMI Classic Archive Series) (2003)

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Released 1-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Bonus Track-Prokofiev Piano Sonata No 3
Booklet
DVD Credits
Trailer-9
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 81:02 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jean-Paul Carrère
Marcel Bluwal
Studio
Distributor
Ideale Audience
EMI Music
Starring André Cluytens
Emil Gilels
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Maurice Ravel
Modest Mussorgsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 1.0 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This is another release in the Classic Archive series from EMI, which features historic performances from French and British television archives. This is volume 17.

    André Cluytens (1905-1967) was one of the pre-eminent conductors in post-war France, yet he was not so well known outside that country. Belgian by birth, he rose to lead the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra up until his premature death. He was a non-dictatorial conductor who was well liked by his players. This is borne out by the beaming, enthusiastic performances enshrined here. One sometimes wonders whether he was playing up to the cameras.

    The first piece here is the Second Suite from the ballet Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel, well played by the Orchestre National de la RTF. This is a broadcast from a bare television studio made in August 1960. Cluytens stands on a bare podium without a score. The camera work is quite good, showing Cluytens from several angles as well as picking out individuals and groups from the orchestra. The impressionist music comes over well, but really needs better sound to make its full impact.

    Following that is a performance from the same broadcast of Ravel's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, which was originally composed for piano solo. This orchestration has been so well done that there is a sense of it being the original version of this work, and it seems to be played more often than the piano version. This performance is very good and builds well to the climax, though it does not displace memories of recorded versions by Karajan and Sinopoli to name but two.

    The final work is the First Piano Concerto of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, from a live concert at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysées in 1959. Cluytens conducts, and the soloist is the great Russian pianist Emil Gilels (1916-1985). The focus here is entirely on Gilels, and rightly so. Despite some wrong notes from time to time, this is a fine performance and demonstrates the excitement and intensity of Gilels' playing.

    This is a good though not outstanding release in the Classic Archive series. While the performances are top-notch, the video and sound quality is not very good due to the nature of the source material. If you can ignore this, there is much that is rewarding on this disc.

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Track Listing

1. Daphnis et Chloé 2nd Suite
2. Pictures at an Exhibition
3. Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The entire programme is in black and white. The video is very blurry and indistinct throughout. It has the look of a kinescoped television broadcast. Sharp would not be a word used in describing the video content of this disc. Shadow detail is quite poor, as is the contrast.

    Given the poor state of the source material, it is difficult to tell whether any problems have been introduced by the transfer. There is some distortion of the image in the first two items, which may be due to being filmed off a curved monitor. There is chroma noise throughout. In the Tchaikovsky, close-ups of Gilels' face show some posterization. Wide shots make Gilels' hands look like white blobs. Close-ups of his hands often show ghosting: there may be up to three images on a single frame, which makes this hard to watch.

    Given the unique nature of this material, it is unlikely that a better transfer is possible.

    The programme is presented on a single layered disc, and as there is no dialogue, there are no subtitles provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The single audio stream is Linear PCM 48/16 1.0 mono. My player outputs this as two mono channels, rather than a single mono signal to the centre speaker. No surround encoding is present.

    The sound is boxy and constricted with some thinness in the upper range. The bass is a little boomy, while there is some hardness in the upper registers. Orchestral textures have some detail, but not a great deal. Violins sound thin and reedy. The music comes through, but it is possible to imagine a much better sound.

    In the Tchaikovsky piece, the orchestral balance is skewed towards the piano, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the orchestral sound is very distant and indistinct, and is often swamped by the piano.

    Audio sync seems to be spot on.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Bonus - Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Sonata no. 3 (6:33)

    This is a filmed performance from 1959 of Gilels playing Prokofiev's single movement sonata. The video and audio quality is a little better than the main programme. The performance is very good, but as an extra, this is somewhat short measure.

Classic Archive

    Short previews from nine releases in this series, plus a list of all of the other releases. Credits for the current DVD are also provided.

Booklet

    A twenty page booklet with two pages of text in English by critic Robert Layton, and translated into several languages. Several photographs of Cluytens and Gilels are included.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is a release available with identical content in all regions. The only difference between the Region 4 and the Region 1 is the television format, so there is no reason not to prefer the Region 4.

Summary

    EMI are to be congratulated on releasing this archival material, even though the content may be in poor condition. For historical purposes, this is fascinating material.

    The video quality is poor, due to the nature of the source material.

    The audio quality is below average for this series.

    The extra, while valuable, does not add up to much.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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