Beethoven String Quartet No. 16


Beethoven String Quartet No. 16 arranged for string orchestra. Leonard Bernstein conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker in a famous concert. Grade: B

I originally put this recording on our "excluded list." But wonk James Kreh dropped me the following (somewhat edited) note:

"This is actually a half-HDVD. The back cover views on Amazon indicate that the Beethoven performance is derived from an HD source. On that basis I bought it because I’ve long admired the Bernstein/Vienna performances of the string quartets Op. 131 and 135 (available together on CD). Too bad this release didn’t include both, but the good news is that the Beethoven obviously was filmed rather than videotaped, allowing for the production of this true HD video. Except for the fact that it’s in a 4:3 aspect ratio (and that Bernstein died in 1990), it could have been filmed last year—it’s a gorgeous video from the Musikverein in September 1989. The director was Humphrey Burton, and he includes lots of long, lingering views of Bernstein, some lasting over a minute. Sure, the audio is probably upsampled from a 16-bit/44.1kHz master, and the surround track is undoubtedly synthesized from the stereo source, but it’s really quite good. The audio encoding is 24-bit/48kHz for both the PCM stereo and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks.

As far as I know, this is the only HDVD we have of Bernstein’s conducting, and the performance is just wonderful. Because of that unique aspect, I suggest you add this to the Alphalist. (You would have to emphasize that the Haydn is clearly upscaled from a standard-definition videotape source. There’s no point in belaboring this one—it’s not HDVD, although it’s not terrible.)

I’m glad to have this Beethoven recording as a wonderful souvenir of Bernstein the conductor, and I suspect that some of your readers may be interested as well."

Thanks James! I told Kerberos not to get upset, and I'm putting this back on the Alphalist. We have to draw lines somewhere. Sometimes I wind up making decisions based on skimpy information. It's great to have wonks to help us out with their actual knowledge about close-call titles. I'm going to grade this as "B" because of the limitations you mentioned. I note that the Amazon customers seem to feel the same way you do about this Bernstein film.

Here is a clip from C Major: