Simon Thompson has already made the DVD version of this performance
Recording of the Month – see review
– and I’m not about to disagree with him. He has taken the words
out of my mouth in every respect, except that I’d like to put
in a word for John Eliot Gardiner’s DG Archiv CD version, which
I think complements this larger-scale Thielemann account superbly.
I shall return to this blu-ray recording, because I think that
one does benefit in this case from seeing the ‘action’, which
is not always the case with non-operatic recordings. I shall,
however, certainly not be disposing of the Gardiner recording
which combines non-dogmatic period practice with the ability
to convey the greatness of the work (429 7792).
Whichever version you choose, on CD, DVD or blu-ray, make sure
that you always have one recording of this marvellous music
to hand. For all my admiration of the Masses of Haydn (especially)
and Mozart, it’s the Beethoven Missa solemnis that ranks
alongside the Bach b-minor Mass. If you don’t yet have the Bach,
John Eliot Gardiner is your man there, too, either separately
(DG Archiv, 2 CDs, 415 5412) or in one of Universal’s give-away
Collectors’ boxes (DG Archiv 469 7692, with the two Passions
and the Christmas Oratorio, 9 CDs for around £45).
To Simon Thompson’s review I merely add that the picture quality
of the blu-ray equivalent is superb – better than you’re likely
to get from the DVD, even if you have an up-scaling machine
– and that the quality of the sound matches it, especially if
played via something which does it better justice than most
TV speakers. I actually have my more expensive Cambridge Audio
650BD blu-ray player linked to my audio system because it also
makes a splendid job of playing SACDs, CDs and DVDs, and the
less expensive Philips player linked to my TV. This new Unitel
recording certainly came over well on both.
There is a price differential between the DVD and blu-ray, with
the latter costing about 50% extra. I’m not always sure that
it’s worth paying the difference, but, in this case, despite
Simon Thompson’s praise for the quality of the DVD picture and
sound, I think it is worthwhile.
Christian Thielemann has also recorded a series of DVDs and
blu-rays entitled ‘Discovering Beethoven’ for Unitel’s associated
label, C-major, which you may wish to check out:
• Symphonies 1-3: 3 DVDs 704708; 3 Blu-ray
704804 (see review)
• Symphonies 4-6: 3 DVDs 704908; 3 Blu-ray
705004 (see review)
• Symphonies 7-9: 3 DVDs 705108; 3 Blu-ray
705204 (see review)
Each symphony is accompanied by a one-hour documentary featuring the Vienna
Philharmonic, Christian Thielemann and Joachim Kaiser, and includes
excerpts from performances from what the C-major ad describes
as ‘legendary performances by Karajan, Bernstein, Böhm and Järvi’.
Our partner suppliers at MDT have all these Thielemann titles
on special offer at the time of writing and until 27 June 2011.
see also review of DVD version by Simon