RCO Live


Richard Strauss Salome opera to a libretto from Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of Oscar Wilde's play Salome. Directed 2018 by Romeo Castellucci at the Großes Festspielhaus as part of the Salzburg Festival. Stars John Daszak (Herodes), Anna Maria Chiuri (Herodias), Asmik Grigorian (Salome), Gábor Bretz (Jochanaan), Julian Prégardien (Narraboth), Christina Bock (A Page of Herodias), Matthäus Schmidlechner (First Jew), Mathias Frey (Second Jew), Kristofer Lundin (Third Jew), Joshua Whitener (Fourth Jew), David Steffens (Fifth Jew), Tilmann Rönnebeck (First Nazarene), Paweł Trojack (Second Nazarene), Thomas Bennett (Kappadozier), Peter Kellner (First Soldier), and Dashon Burton (Second Soldier). Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker. Sets, costumes, and lighting design by Romeo Castellucci; choreography by Cindy Van Acker; artistic collaboration by Silvia Costa; dramaturgy by Piersandra Di Matteo. Directed for TV by Henning Kasten. Sung in German. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Mahler Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"

Mahler Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection".In 2016 Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra & Netherlands Radio Choir at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam (Chorus Master Klaas Stok). Singers are Anette Dasch (soprano) and Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano). Video direction by Dick Kuijs. Released 2017, the music reviewed here was recorded with 96kHz/48-bit sound sampling and played with a 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio file. The disc also has a stereo sound file recorded at 192/24 and a 9.0 Auro-3D file (a first for us). Grade: B+

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Berlioz Symphonie fantastique


Berlioz Symphonie fantastique performed 2016 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Daniele Gatti at the Concertgebouw. Concert also includes Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture (Dresden version) and the Liszt Orpheus (Symphonic Poem No. 4). Music recorded with 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling. Video was recorded at 1080p24, which is unusual as most video these days are recorded at 30 frames per second. (You may need to fiddle with equipment settings to get the 24 fps to play nice.) Released 2016, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

The recording arm of the Royal Concertgebouw operation is called RCO Live. It appears they have been pretty successful with CDs and other audio formats. But their video publication record is poor due to cutting corners and serious problems with DVDitis. Their Mahler Symphonies 1-10 box was a huge failure that got a D grade from us. Somewhat better was their Beethoven Symphonies 1-9 box that is graded B- here.

This new video of Symphony fantastique is not generous. RCO management is still stuck in the LP/CD rut while offering 85 minutes of music on a disc that can play for 4 hours.  Well, if you want to charge $35 for one symphony, the content must be state-of-the-art in every respect. RCO has come through with 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling, which is encouraging.

But I note that this title is also available in DVD, which is discouraging. If the video content on the Blu-ray is the same as that of the DVD, then the Blu-ray version is automatically rendered obsolete as it falls short of today's state-of-the-art in making HD recordings of symphony concerts. (I did see a short video clip from this recording that prepares me to be disappointed.)

If you have this Blu-ray recording, I ask you to consult our Work Worksheet and Wonk Worksheet Instructions. Then I ask you to play this Symphony fantastique while assigning each video clip to the categories on the Wonk Worksheet. This will take some work. But if you do this work and let us publish it, you will instantly become an elite fine-arts critic. That's because the Wonk Worksheet is the only technique ever devised for art criticism that has objective standards that can be peer-reviewed.  Have you got the guts to be a Wonk?


Beethoven Symphonies 1-9

Beethoven Symphonies 1-9. This is a box set of all 9 Beethoven symphonies with Iván Fischer conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Choir.  Recorded live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on 11 May 2013 (1, 2, & 5), 31 May 2013 (3 & 4), 9-10 January 2014 (6 & 7), and 20-21 February 2014 (8 & 9). Symphony No. 9 features Myrto Papatanasiu (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Burkhard Fritz (tenor), and Gerald Finley (bass). Title is available also in DVD, but recordings of  single symphonies are not offered. Sound is 96 kHz, 24 bit in LPCM 2.0, and DTS-HD MA 5.0. (It is clearly noted in the booklet and on the cases that both sound formats are 96/24.) TV Director is Dick Kuijs for all. Released 2015. Grade: B- as an average for the whole box.

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Bruckner Symphony No. 5

Bruckner Symphony No. 5 recorded 2013 by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Although I haven't found any published verification of this, Zoltan Glied (who has always been right in the past) reports that this disc, released 2014, was recorded with 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling and has both stereo and 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio output.  Grade: NA

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Mahler Symphonies 1-10

Mahler Symphonies 1-10 box set. This box has all the Mahler symphonies plus Totenfeier and Das Lied von der Erde. The concerts were performed 2009 - 2011 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons and several guest conductors. The discs in this box are not sold separately.

Grade for the box as a whole: D.

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