Beethoven-Complete Piano Concertos (Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim) (2007) (NTSC)

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Released 21-Nov-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Main Menu Audio & Animation
Booklet
Trailer-4
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 197:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:52)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Beyer
Studio
Distributor
Euroarts
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Daniel Barenboim
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $89.95 Music Ludwig Van Beethoven


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Beethoven's five concertos for piano and orchestra span his early and middle years. The Second was written when he was still a teenager, though it wasn't published until after he wrote his First Concerto ten years later, hence the out-of-sequence numbering. The Fifth was completed when he was forty.

    The first two concertos are less distinctive than the remainder, as if in between the Second and the Third Beethoven found his voice and his way of constructing a work. The Fifth, which subsequently became known as the Emperor, is one of the most popular of all concertos.

    This disc contains a series of performances from the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in May 2007, with the concertos played by Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. Barenboim not only plays the piano part but conducts as well. This is no barrier to successful performances and the earlier piano concertos come off without any hitches. In the Fourth Concerto there are some unusual variations in tempo during the last movement which I found disconcerting, and the Fifth is also affected in a similar fashion. Nonetheless these are good performances and are well recorded, perhaps too well recorded in some ways.

    The hall is somewhat unusual. The Jahrhunderthalle in the city of Bochum used to be part of a gasworks. Designed in the early 1900s, it was a striking building as a factory, with designs similar to that of a cathedral. After the gasworks closed it lay idle until it was refurbished as a concert hall. There are visible internal steel arches, bare walls and glass skylights and windows. This makes for a striking-looking concert hall, but in respect of video compression it does lead to some problems.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I watched these two NTSC discs upscaled to 1280x720p. The 16x9 enhanced video is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which appears to be the original aspect ratio.

    The concerts appear to have been held in daylight hours, but internally there is additional lighting which is quite bright, so everything is clear. Detail is reasonable, and colour is good.

    Shadow detail is particularly fine. Although Barenboim chooses to wear a black suit with a black shirt, all of the folds and seams are clearly defined. One can even see the black stitching on the hems of his sleeves.

    Video artefacts are rampant. There is plenty of aliasing, on the strings of the piano and the orchestra's implements, on the structure of the hall and even in the audience in wider shots. There is also a lot of Gibb Effect. Some chroma noise can be seen in two or three instances in the background.

    There are no subtitles. Both discs are RSDL-formatted. On Disc One which contains the first three concertos the layer break occurs at 54:52 in the break between the second and third movements of the Second Concerto. On Disc Two the break is at 38:35, between the two works.

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

Audio

    As seems always to be the case with Euroarts, there are three audio tracks to choose from. I listened to the DTS 5.1 tracks in full and sampled the others, which are Dolby Digital 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0.

    The audio is generally excellent, with a full range of dynamics for the piano and plenty of detail in the orchestra. The mix is very much towards the front channels, the piano across all three (Barenboim sits with his back to the audience). The rear channels are used for concert hall ambience and audience noise. The low frequency effects channel gets a lot of use, resulting in a rich and often loud bass.

    This bass reinforcement overemphasizes one quibble I have with the audio, in that the sound of the pianist's pedalling comes across as loud thumps. I found this a little distracting. This effect can be heard in all three audio tracks.

    The Dolby Digital track is not much different to the DTS, though perhaps the overall sound is less rich by a small margin. The Linear PCM track is excellent, given a much more rounded and three-dimensional sound to the piano.

    I heard no issues with audio sync.

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

Extras

    The two-disc set comes in a digipack inside a cardboard slipcase.

Main Menu Audio and Animation

    As usual, the audio disappears when returning to the main menu after watching the programme or navigating to another menu.

Booklet

    The booklet contains essays about the works, pianist/conductor and orchestra, as well as a tracklist and some photos. The essays appear in several languages.

Trailers (10:52)

    There are four trailers on Disc Two for other Euroarts releases.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is available internationally, and appears to be the same everywhere.

Summary

    Good performances of these wonderful concertos.

    The video quality is problematic on a large screen.

    The audio quality is very good apart from the thumping of the pedals.

    No significant extra material.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW60 SXRD projector with 95" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationReceiver: Pioneer VSX-AX4ASIS; Power Amplifiers: Elektra Reference (mains), Elektra Theatron (centre/rears)
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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