DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

STRAVINSKY: Rite Of Spring – “Keeping Score” series, Blu-ray (2013)

The latest in the San Francisco Symphony's "Keeping Score" series is another well done and beautifully-shot concert video.

Published on July 8, 2013

STRAVINSKY: Rite Of Spring – “Keeping Score” series, Blu-ray (2013) 

Revealing classical music 
Performers: San Francisco Symphony/ Michael Tilson Thomas 
Studio: SFS Media [5/14/13]
Video: 16:9 1080i HD
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (upsampled 96/24), PCM stereo (96/24)
Extras: Intro by MTT, Performance of excerpt from The Firebird, MTT intros to others in the Keeping Score series such as the Mahler, Video on the filming of the series
Length: 127 minutes
Rating: *****

This is probably the best shot and highest resolution classical concert Blu-ray I have yet seen. It was shot in 2006. The extra feature on the cutting-edge equipment used is also most interesting. It includes three remote-control cameras that track all over the orchestra in the least disruptive manner to get exiting shots of the players’ perspective of conductor MTT, and closeups of the appropriate instrument when that instrument is heard clearly in the music. The camera work is superb, and the shots of the director at work are amazing. He has to rapidly cut from one to another of the eight cameras, and uses the same approach as if they were doing a live TV broadcast, due to its heightened excitement for all involved.

The Keeping Score series has been offering more than the usual filming of classical symphonic performances by various orchestras for Blu-ray. MTT has created interesting introductions to the music to make it a more involving experience, often bringing in visits to the locations where the music was created and talking about the composers lives. The documentary on this one does the same, taking you from the salons of St. Petersburg to the villages where Stravinsky was inspired by the earthy power of Russian folk music and dance.

The performances are crisp and involving. All the musicians seem to be dedicated and doing their utmost for a thrilling recreation of the work. And none of them ever look into the camera, as on some classical concert videos. The hi-res surround sonics are excellent—just as good as DTS-HD versions. An outstanding AV achievement!

—John Sunier




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