SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

“WEILL – IBERT – BERG” – Baton Rouge Sym. Ch. Players/Timothy Muffitt – WEILL: Concerto for Violin and Winds; IBERT: Concerto for Cello and 10 Winds; BERG: Chamber Concerto for piano, violin, and 13 winds – Sono Luminus (audio-only Blu-ray + CD)

Another reasonably-priced audio-only Blu-ray combined with a useful standard CD.

Published on November 4, 2012

“WEILL – IBERT – BERG” – Baton Rouge Sym. Ch. Players/Timothy Muffitt – WEILL: Concerto for Violin and Winds; IBERT: Concerto for Cello and 10 Winds; BERG: Chamber Concerto for piano, violin, and 13 winds – Sono Luminus audio-only Blu-ray + CD DSL-92161, 66:39 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

This is the latest “Pure Audio” Blu-ray release from Sono Luminus, which combines this lossless surround disc which plays on any Blu-ray deck with a standard CD of the identical material, and both at a most reasonable price. Kudos to Sono Luminus for coming up with this excellent hi-res surround alternative, the packaging conforming to standard jewelbox design, and for commercially recording an American orchestra – even if it is just a chamber orchestra. The musicians are members of the Baton Rouge Symphony, and Muffitt is also conductor of the main Symphony.

The organizing theme behind this trio of works is the idea of the uncommon chamber concerto involving a solo instrument in combination with wind instruments. A number of them did appear during the ten years following the First World War. Weill’s concerto was an early work, coming shortly after three years of study in a Berlin class led by Busoni. It begins with an almost 11 minute first movement, followed by four shorter ones. In the later movements the solo violin partners with other instruments in duo form, including xylophone, trumpet, oboe and then flute.

The Ibert Concerto runs less than a quarter-hour and is replete with the composer’s playfulness and irony. The cello and winds are sort of at odds until the Gigue finale, where the soloist joins in the general gaiety. Berg is frankly the only one of the twelve-tone composers I can listen to, especially his glorious Violin Concerto. The Chamber Concerto is not in that territory, and I must admit when I read that it was tied in with a celebration of the 50th birthday of his teacher Arnold Schoenberg, I was even less interested. The note booklet discusses its structural features, if that interests you. The three movements are played without pause, and the final one is a “rhythmical rondo,” reflected in its actual title.

The audio-only Blu-ray gives the listener three options for playback: 24-bit/192K PCM stereo, 24-bit/192K 5.1 DTS-MA surround, or 24-bit/96K DTS-MA surround. It would be nice if one didn’t need to turn on the video display in order to select one of the hi-res surround options, but unfortunately with a display the default is the stereo PCM. With the display, the screen image is similar to that of the 2L and Naxos Pure-Audio Blu-rays, where you select the options and tracks you want.

—John Sunier




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