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Simple Minds - Sparkle in the Rain (1984/2015) [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Sparkle in the Rain
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Synth-pop, Pop Rock
Label: © Universal Music
Release Date: 2015
Recorded: September–October 1983 at Monnow Valley Studio in Rockfield; The Town House in London
Quality: Blu-ray Audio
Length: 00:45:07 + 00:44:57 (Original 1984 Stereo Mix)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 2002 kbps / 1080p / 23,976 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Audio#1: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 / 96 kHz / 8310 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 6.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Audio#2: English LPCM 5.1 / 96 kHz / 13824 kbps / 24-bit
Audio#3: English LPCM 2.0 / 96 kHz / 4608 kbps / 24-bit

Sparkle in the Rain is the sixth studio album by Simple Minds, released on 6 February 1984. A breakthrough commercial success for the band, the record peaked at number one in the UK Albums Chart on 18 February 1984, and reached the top 20 in numerous other countries around the world, including New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and Australia. Receiving mostly positive reviews in the United Kingdom and the United States, Sparkle in the Rain was ultimately certified double platinum in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry, and significantly increased media interest in the band.

Scotland’s Simple Minds get creative and passionate on Sparkle in the Rain, their seventh album released prior to their mid-’80s heyday of heralding the charts. Produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Morrissey, XTC, Psychedelic Furs), Sparkle in the Rain marks the band’s best effort thus far, capturing thick seascapes of illustrious lyrical visions. Frontman Jim Kerr’s anthemic love songs are political and personal, and synth-beats throb over Charlie Burchill’s new wave third-chord guitars and swooning basslines. Songs like “Waterfront” and “Book of Brilliant Things” are finely cut tracks with Simple Minds’ signature harking, but the glossy verse behind “Up on the Catwalk” is what’s most appealing. Piano vibes are pinch-hitting and Kerr’s songwriting thrives on celebrity and the falling grace that coincides that. Sparkle in the Rain is a glimpse of what’s to come from Simple Minds. Kerr’s heart-wrenching vocals soar and such emotion only leads to earning a global following. Like U2 did with 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, Simple Minds will touch hearts by stripping their soul. The process has already begun on Sparkle in the Rain. –MacKenzie Wilson
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Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No 3 ‘Scottish’ / Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto – London Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Eliot Gardiner (2014) [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Сomposer: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Artist: London Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Title: Mendelssohn: Symphony No 3 ‘Scottish'; Schumann: Piano Concerto
Genre: Classical
Label: © LSO Live
Release Date: 2014
Recording Location: January 2014 at Barbican, London, United Kingdom
Quality: Blu-ray Audio
Length: 01:19:21 + 01:30:49 (video bonus)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 950 kbps / 1920*1080i / 29,970 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Video (bonus): MPEG-4 AVC 21993 kbps / 1920*1080i / 29,970 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Audio#1: German DTS-HD MA 5.0 / 192 kHz / 18133 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 6.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Audio#2: German LPCM 2.0 / 192 kHz / 9216 kbps / 24-bit
Audio#3 (bonus): German LPCM 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Size: 32.82 GB

Inspired by his travels to the British Isles and full of the influence of the rolling Scottish landscape, both Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Scottish’ and his Overture: The Hebrides (‘Fingal’s Cave’) are amongst the composer’s most popular and admired works. The London Symphony Orchestra present us with inspiring performances of these works, as well as a performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto, featuring the celebrated pianist, Maria João Pires.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner writes of this coupling; ‘Even if they spoke with different accents these genial Romantics were united in their ambitious fervour for ‘abstract’ music to be acknowledged as having the same expressive force as poetry, drama or the literary novel. The three works on this album exemplify the endeavour and range of invention of two of them, friends and colleagues in Leipzig’.
As well as SACD, this recording will be released on the new format Pure Audio Blu-ray, which will enable the orchestra to be heard in high resolution sound on every Blu-ray player. Bonus HD video footage of the full concert will also be included on the Blu-ray.
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George Frideric Handel - Messiah, HWV 56 - Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood (2015) [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Сomposer: George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Artist: Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood
Title: Handel – Messiah, HWV 56 (Foundling Hospital Version 1754)
Genre: Classical, Oratorio
Label: © Decca Music Group | Editions de L’Oiseau-Lyre
Release Date: 1980/2015
Recording Location: St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 1979
Remastered by Paschal Byrne at Audio Archiving Company
Quality: Blu-ray Audio
Length: 02:15:42
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1053 kbps / 1080p / 23,976 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Audio#1: English LPCM 2.0 / 96 kHz / 4608 kbps / 24-bit
Audio#2: English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 / 96 kHz / 2535 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)

Recordings like Christopher Hogwood’s Messiah are perfect vehicles for the debate of the authentic instrument movement in music. Especially here, since a work as well known to a wide general audience as the Messiah (the recordings of which number in the thousands) will get a number of varied reactions depending upon the performance.
Hogwood, although known to many as a “father” (of sorts) to the authentic movement in music, was actually the keyboardist in Neville Marriner’s Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields before leaving to form his own Academy of Ancient Music. He has done extensive scholarly research into the performance traditions of Baroque music, much of which has permanently altered many long-standing attitudes and traditions in music performance. The question remains, though: does all of this research and application contribute to a finished product that is communicative to an audience?
It seems likely, if based only on the impressive cast. Augmenting the Academy’s forces are tenor Paul Elliott, contralto Carolyn Watkinson, and sopranos Judy Nelson and Emma Kirkby. The Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, is equally impressive. For this recording, as is indicated in his extensive and thorough liner notes, Hogwood utilizes the 1754 Foundling Hospital version. Although it may be a surprising change for some listeners accustomed to the more “standard” versions, the re-creation of this performance is important in a number of ways, historically and artistically.
But from the opening bars of the overture, the atmosphere feels rushed. Harmonies are not given enough space or time to be heard and to blossom, and the atmosphere feels thin, grainy, cold, and dry. This seems hardly conducive to the rapture, passion, and magnificence depicted in Handel’s score. Everything seems too perfect and too pure, too lifeless and too little energy. An additional annoyance is that the balance of the harpsichord seems far above the orchestra, in some cases (the “Glory of the Lord,” for instance) even covering the singers when they dip into the lower registers.
These complaints are now almost cliché for those who consistently complain of Hogwood’s performance style; for better or worse this recording could serve well as evidence. Looking past these issues, however, one can find a number of beautiful moments throughout. It is precisely due to his approach with this music that Hogwood is able to draw some extraordinary changes of color when and where he wants to. For example, the first bars of “and He Shall Purify” are breathtaking; the organ is significantly exposed here for the first time and finally he releases the music in a way that seems to let it unravel. The vocal solos are good throughout, and Kirkby’s performance is notable for its suppleness and grace.
Keep in mind that this is a re-creative performance, designed to emulate the conditions of the performance at the Foundling Hospital. Unfortunately, in this case it also means that while the sound quality is certainly good, even though the playing and singing are exceptional, the performance itself may not draw you in. Years after its first release, this recording still leaves one cold, and if you desire a warm, emotional, and intimate performance you may do well to look elsewhere. For those who prefer something more austere, though, look no further. –C. Ryan Hill, AllMusic
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Hector Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique – London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (2014) [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Сomposer: Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Artist: London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
Title: Berlioz – Symphonie fantastique
Genre: Classical
Label: © LSO Live
Release Date: 2014
Recording Location: 31st October 2013 & 14th November 2013 at Barbican, London, United Kingdom
Quality: Blu-ray Audio
Length: 01:05:37 + 00:57:10 (video bonus)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 950 kbps / 1920*1080i / 29,970 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Video (bonus): MPEG-4 AVC 21994 kbps / 1920*1080i / 29,970 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Audio#1: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 / 192 kHz / 10490 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 6.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Audio#2: English LPCM 2.0 / 192 kHz / 9216 kbps / 24-bit
Audio#3 (bonus): English LPCM 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Valery Gergiev conducts the London Symphony Orchestra at the start of a much-anticipated Berlioz cycle. Here we have the Symphonie fantastique and the overture Waverley. Berlioz let his imagination run wild in this music, finding inspiration in all manner of sources, including his own turbulent personal life. His experience of powerful, unrequited love finds its expression in the emotionally charged Symphonie fantastique, the story of an artist’s ‘hopeless love’, complete with waltzes, witches and a hallucinogenic nightmare. There are few orchestras with the music of Berlioz more thoroughly in their blood than the LSO, and here Valery Gergiev brings to bear his opulent interpretation of this landmark piece.
***** ‘Gergiev came to the platform and launched a seemingly possessed LSO into some of the most thrilling Berlioz one could ever hope to hear. With utterly sincere lyricism from cor anglais Christine Pendrill alongside ear-splitting, monstrous brass fanfares, this was a performance which, whilst totally committed to Berlioz’s uncanny ideas, was just as original and brilliant as the man himself.’ –bachtrack.com
***** ‘Gergiev strode onto the stage to deliver a robust reading of Berlioz’s Waverley overture. With Gergiev’s awareness of colour and timbre, their performance made for enjoyable listening.’ –Music OMH
‘The March to the Scaffold’ went at a smart pace, with a chilling execution, and in an intensely dramatic ‘Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath’ the LSO, having already produced outstanding playing in the first four movements, achieved still greater heights of virtuosity, with the second violinists unusually permitted to show off their considerable paces at the front of the platform, opposite the firsts.’ –classicalsource.com
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