77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This review is for everyone wondering about the audio and video quality of this release in comparison to the original blu-ray releases.
NOTE: no comparison is made for Sym #7 as I only own the DVD of that symphony.
1) Video quality on all discs is identical to this release. Even though discs 1-3 now have double the content, they are on BD 50s and have the exact same bit rate
and have the same strengths and weaknesses. Symphony #3 looks the best with Sym #6 a close 2nd, again just like the original releases.
2) Audio quality: The Big Issue! First off, the back of the box makes it sound like there is no DTS-Master Audio track for disc 3. This is NOT the case. I don't know what that's all about, but I can confirm that the audio on Disc 3 (Symphonies 5 & 6) is identical to their respective original releases. There are two audio options for each disc LPCM 2.0 and DTS HD Master Audio 5.1.
Next, the controversial Symphony #2 (on Disc #1) IS THE NEW RE-RELEASE AUDIO VERSION! If you own the original release, go straight to the 5th movement and play the explosive opening. You will die when you hear the difference (and you will not be disappointed)!
Finally, Symphony #4. I had never played my original blu-ray copy of this symphony until making this comparison. I have read quite a few reviews of this release and most give this disc very high marks for audio. That being said, some who have purchased the original disc have said that (like Sym. #2) the audio is not a true discrete 5.1 DTS Master-Audio mix but a repurposed stereo mix. I hear no difference between the audio on the original release and the audio on disc 2 (Symphonies 3 & 4) in this box set. That being said, the audio on this disc is nowhere near as bad as the original Sym. #2 blu-ray. It is not in the same league as Symphonies 3 & 6, but not bad at all. Very natural sounding. I must admit that I do hear what sounds like some instrument specific panning in things like the sleigh bells and other instruments. The soprano solo in the forth movement is where I checked the most to listen for any difference in the two releases and I hear none. What I can't confirm is whether or not this is in fact a discrete 5.1 mix or a stereo mix from which a fake 5.1 remix was created.
The corrected Symphony #2 is known to exist. I have not heard the same about Sym. #4. I can find no press release or official info of any kind saying that EuroArts is creating a re-issue of that blu-ray. Some on this site and blu-ray.com seem to indicate that this very well may be the case. If anyone else has any official info on the matter, please post. In any case, the audio on Symphony #4 is not disappointing and I seriously doubt I would have detected any issues, except in comparison to the likes of Symphony #3 which is outstanding!
I would give this new box set a grade of 4.5 stars and gave it the benefit of the doubt with a 5 to balance out the two 3 star reviews. The performances are uniformly excellent. The value of getting 7 symphonies on 4 discs amazing (as is the slimmer packaging and single (less flimsy) booklet. The picture quality varies from very good (Syms. 1, 2 & 4) to excellent (Syms 3, 6 & 7). Audio quality is demo quality for Symphonies 3 & 6 and very strong on the other releases. I think people who buy this box will be thrilled with the audio quality on Sym #2, which is no longer the black sheep of the bunch.
Also of note: some, myself included, had an issue in the 4th movement of Sym #2 with the disc freezing or even locking up their machines. That issue has been corrected as well.
For those of you who hated the audio mix on Sym #4, you might want to wait for official word from EuroArts on what the real deal is. I would like to know too.
Hope this helps anyone on the fence on whether or not to purchase (or like me, double-dip) on this purchase.
They had me at Mahler on Blu-Ray!!!
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Carl J. Weber
- Published on Amazon.com
As a dedicated classical music listener and audiophile for decades, I can say that this set has totally changed my view about the future of home entertainment. I was somewhat burned out on Mahler given the plethora of releases of his symphonies and numbers of live performances I have seen. I was also somewhat indifferent to Maestro Abbado, not having included much of his output previously in my collection. I knew him to be a great conductor, but there were plenty of other great ones, too, I thought.
All that changed dramatically upon obtaining this set. This is a definite "must have" among all other renditions of Mahler's symphonies. I doubt I will ever seek any other performances of these works after traversing this absolutely magnificent set. They are superbly and movingly performed by wonderful artists with superb sonics. But, the beautifully done video component adds a whole new dimension of insight into the passion, the sensitivity and the artistry of Mahler's music and of the musicians who perform it. I have been an SACD multichannel music lover, but this is in a class by itself.
After being dazzled by opera on Blu-ray, I have now come to realize how live concert performances in this medium can offer even more listener involvement in the music and the performance than audio-only. It is totally engrossing, totally enjoyable. Not only does it exceed the hi rez audio-only listening experience, but in some ways, it exceeds even live performance because of the deftly done, intimate close-ups of conductor and performers. It gets us closer to live performance than anything in any medium to date.
And, what can one say about Maestro Abbado himself? One gets to know him musically and on an emotional level that is unparalleled. If I was indifferent to him before, I now consider myself an ardent fan of the highest order. Not only do we hear, but we see why he is at the pinnacle of Mahler conductors today. This is something very, very special, indeed.
I have only some minor technical quibbles with the set. First, the box is erroneous is saying that Disc 3, containing the Symponies #5 & 6, is in LPCM 2.0 only. It is not. That disc is also in DTS - HD Master Audio 5.0, as is the rest of the set.
The series goes back to Lucerne Festival performances beginning in 2004. It seems some of the earlier releases have a minor touch of brightness here and there that has been rebalanced to perfection to my ears on my system on later releases. Indeed, the separately available disc of the Symphony #9 in a searing, incandescent performance from the 2010 Festival is at least as good sonically as anything I know of on SACD. Can the mighty Symphony #8 be far behind? I expect it will be performed at the Festival this year and released thereafter.
I was less taken by the "bonus" Rueckert Lieder performance by soprano Magdalena Kozena. But, she is wonderful in the Symphony #4. The added Prokofiev Piano Concert #3 with the beautiful Juja Wang is delightful in every way.
This set has smitten me to an absolutely unprecedented degree. And, I will be seeking out and collecting concert Blu-rays from here on in. It is truly a fantastic new dimension in classical music enjoyment in the home.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Mahler along with Wagner, are two composers that you must done have some reading about their lives, as then you will obtain a better understanding of their music.I suggest 'Mahler, a life' by Jonathan Carr. It is not a weighty tome,but destroys some of the myths surrounding Mahler,and 'Mahler an Introduction to his music'by Deryck Cooke, obtained from Amazon.
Mahler's parents were ill suited, but it producted 14 children,of whom only seven survived. Much has been made about the fact that this had an effect upon Mahler. But the death rate when he was born in 1860 amongest infants were high.He grew up in Iglau,Moravia,near a military barracks, with its trumpet sounds, and bands, dance tunes in the town on Saturday nights and regional folk music. Nearby was the countryside, which became a refuge for him. Bernard Mahler, his father, noticed Gustav's musical talent, for he himself was attempting to better himself intellectually.He obtained a music teacher and eventually Gustav entered the Vienna conservatory. Later on Mahler became conductor and director of the Vienna Court orchestra from 1897-1907. In 1902 he married Alma, who was years younger then he. She wanted to be his muse. He told her bluntly that she must give up her composing for him.She mixed in a artistic circle and was their pin up girl.Her parents and step father were artistic. Unfortunately, she was not as intelligent as she thought. Her books about her life with Mahler are to be taken lightly. He was a difficult man, but self sufficent, and would compose alone in a hut.She got her revenge in her memoirs.
Parts of his Seventh symphony influenced Webern,Berg and Schonberg.Although Mahler did not understand Schonbergs music he supported him in every way he could, including giving him money. It is thought if Mahler had not died in his early 50's in 1911, he would have ended up coming to the same musical conclusions as Schonberg. Along with Wagner, Mahler believed in reincarnation and there is much evidence to support this.In the Third Symphony he thought he had discovered the secret of creation. The sounds he produces in his symphonies, the bugle calls, marches,walzes, mundane music distorted, also the sounds of nature, must have seemed like Birtwhistle, or Nono does to modern audiences when first heard. You may have noticed that after a disjointed movement,he places a adagio and so forth. It is thought that the mundane and the spiritual in the music,are caused by the gentleness of his mother, whom he adored and the ambitious down to earth father.Mahlers music was not just about himself, but the world, and the quest for answers of a philosophical nature.
I think together, Solti conducting of the Mahler Symphonies, with the Chicago Symphony orchestra on CD, along with the Bernstein recordings on DVD, have fast tempi, which Mahler prefered.Both bring out the rawness and so called vulgarity,and Bernstein the emotionalism. I think Tennstedt is better when he is conducting alive, as in the DVD's of the Ist and 8th Symphonies, then in a studio. Haitink 6th Movement, of the Third Symphony,captures the spiritual beauty of that movement. But he is too polite and plays down aspects of Mahler. The songs, you cannot go past Janet Baker with John Barbirolli.However, Das Lied von der Erde,there is Klemperer's version, with Ludwig and Wunderlich,Ferrier and Patzak, Vienna Phil,cond Bruno Walter.1952, and Kerstin Thorborg,Kullmann,cond Walter, Vienna Phil,1938. The very first recording.Dutton. Both Walter and Klemperer, who knew Mahler well, both conducted his work differently.
After such a lengthy introduction,I will give my opinion on the seven Mahler symphonies.Claudio Abbado's tempi are fast. They are played differently to the Solti and Bernstein recordings. He down plays the rawness and vulgar sounds deliberately, so you can hear the music clearly, for his textures are light. It is as if the lens has been cleansed and I can see anew. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is a supreme one. He has friends, former and current members of the Berlin and Vienna philharmonic orchestra,and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Along with well known instrumental soloists, also the Sabine Meyer ensemble and the Hagen Quartet.Abbado believes ensembles and so forth listen to each other.You can see that the orchestra love this man.I have never seen that in a orchestra. They are playing for him in their holidays. The 5th, 6th and 7th symphonies are excellent. At the beginning of the 1st disc,the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3 is played by Yuja Wang on the Piano. Disc No 2, has the Ruckert Leider, sung by Magdalena Kozena.Her voice is light compared to Baker, but I enjoyed the songs. It is a matter of taste,or opinion. The Bluray Discs come in a excellent white box, which is beautiful to the eye and has a booklet inside. 1080 full HD, DTS HD audio surround sound.Worldwide. The sound is fine. I have A Denon bluray machine with two speakers,but with Sennheiser earphones,it gives you surround sound. It is a new invention, a necessity for someone like me who lives in a flat.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Clive S. Goodwin
- Published on Amazon.com
Since I already had all the dvd versions of these first seven symphonies, I debated at length whether to spring for the bluray upgrades.After all, the dvd video, when upconverted, can approach HD quality, and regular dts is almost as good as DTS MASTER AUDIO. Or so I thought! Plus these are exemplary performances.
First off, this set is a remarkable bargain. I was able to get this for $66 plus shippping, less than $10 per symphony! So just on that basis, get this and sell your dvd versions, if like me you bought those previously. With the huge storage capability of bluray, more effort should be made to put more content on the bluray releases as in this set, given the huge price premium normally being demanded. The Theilemann Beethoven is another example of offering much more material on the bluray set.
The video on this really is very good, later performances showing greater improvement than the earlier ones, at least to my eye. The DTS MASTER AUDIO is much better than the original dts, more detail being evident with better dynamic range., and they appear to have fiddled with the balance in some areas, to beneficial effect.I usually had to reduce the center channel output relative to the left/right channels in the dvd versions to get proper perspective. Not so with these. The earlier problems noted by early acquirers of the individual bluray releases seem to have been fixed.
The only problem I found was I was unable to the get time elasped/time remaining status feature to work on these discs. These are the only discs in my collection (dvd or Bluray) that won't respond to this. Since I like to cue in on certain passages, this is annoying. Unless I somehow have pirated discs, I don't understand this!
Anyway, These are definitely worth having, and are a true steal!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a terrific bargain for anyone wanting to explore Mahler's wonderful symphonies - worth it alone for the magnificent interpretations which was . Any collection of Mahler's music is going to have a difficult job in maintaining a consistently high standard. The music is demanding and no conductor is going to bring everything off. Turning to the individual symphonies I liked 3, 4 and 7. Abbado handles the forces in very well and the recording is not congested at the climaxes like Solti's otherwise classic recordings. Abbado, on the whole, pulls the Mahler cycle off admirably and he is well served by the various engineers resulting in clear sound and spot on balances...
The performances are good and convey the complex world of Mahler's symphonies well, though there were many points at which I wished for Bernstein's emotional intensity.
Overall however it is hard to fault such a fantastic set of disks with so much good music so well played at such a competitive price.