The Future Is Here -
Audio Still Rules
Trondheimsolistene in folk style Suite "From Holberg's Time"; Two Nordic Melodies-Edvard Grieg. Abrege-Folk Suite for Nyckelharpa and String Orchestra-Emilia Amper. Diplom- Folk Suite for fiddle and String Orchestra-Gjermund Larsen. Trondheim Soloists, Geir Inge Lotsberg leader. 2L. Blu-ray 2L-068-SABD; SACD 2L-068-SACD
La Fille Du Pharaon (The Pharaohs Daughter)-Cesare Pugni. Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theater, Alexander Sotnikov conductor. Bel Air Classics. Blu-ray BAC 401
Cavalleria Rusticana-Pieto Mascagni. Pagliacci-Ruggero Leoncavallo. Zurich Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Stepheno Ranzani conductor. Art Haus. Blu-ray (single-side) BD 101 490
Blu-ray recordings may be video, audio or commonly video plus audio; so if the video is a distraction, turn it off though I would suggest watching the video at least once as at times it can be interesting. In this issue the reviews have been done with the new Oppo BDP-83 Special Edition Blu-ray player. Until further notice it will be the player used in future reviews. It was received from Bill Thalmann of Music Technology just 72 hours ago and includes VSE's well known Terra Firma Lite clock and other upgrades including analog. The extensive upgrades are designed to also significantly improve SACD audio quality. The first review in this section features a brief preliminary review of the same music on a SACD versus a Blu-ray recording by the same company. I plead for understanding in this issue's first and possibly anybody's first, comparison of SACD and Blu-ray of the same music by the same company on the same player. I simply have not had time to do a thorough job as yet.
The pair of recordings from the relatively new and small 2L company (so named as both principles' surname starts with the letter L) come in the same case. The music is played what they refer to as "folk style" that is comparable to some American folk music including the instruments played. Basically light weight music and pleasing featuring string instruments and seemingly between ten and twenty players here. With only one comparative listening session, my impression is that the SACD version had a lower output level and an overall slightly fuller or richer tonal balance than the same recording in Blu-ray. Both versions were played on the new much upgraded Oppo SE player using HDMI outputs.
The 'Pharaoh's Daughter' is a completely unknown ballet to me. The setting in old Egypt evidently, is rather attractive as are the costumes. The music is melodic and certainly danceable. The video quality is very good while the good audio quality is slightly less full, rich or detailed than the better newer Blu-ray releases.
The famous pair of short operas, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are seen and heard here in very good presentations. The Blu-ray audio quality is very good with no obvious faults and the video really is outstanding with some of the wild costumes in Pagliacci. No seemingly great vocalists here in either opera to my way of thinking though I am not known for my knowledge of current opera vocalists. As might be expected, in every respect, particularly to non opera attendees, the Pagliacci half of the disc impresses with very attractive costumes and often a more upbeat story-line. I guess I could easily say this really shows off the new Oppo player used to watch and listen with overall fine audio quality.