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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The 4-disc set is stunning. It's an elaborately detailed release that, among other things, documents an amazing collaboration. Queen/Mercury fans know the story of how Freddie Mercury came to create this album of various duets with Spanish opera star, Montserrat Caballé. The main focus of this 25th anniversary edition is the replacing of the original synthesized score with a full 80 piece orchestra. It works. A lot of work was put into this, from trying to match the feel of the original backing tracks to replacing the faux-Japanese koto in "La Japonaise" with the real thing. You can complain all you want about the intent of this project but, to me, it finally sounds finished. As early Queen albums proudly announced, "No synths." The original version is still available but it's been solidly thrashed by this 2012 version. The people behind this project - some of whom were there when the original album was created - make a strong case for this being what Mercury would've wished for. I suppose the best evidence is a simple one: it sounds better. Mercury and Caballé sound absolutely more natural with a huge orchestra backing them up.

VERY special mention has to be made of two soloists on one song. There is no call for a Brian May-style solo on this album, since the original had no guitar work. However, "How Can I Go On" has a part for drum and bass guitar. The drums are played by Rufus Taylor - Roger's son - and the bass guitar part is played by John Deacon, taken from the original release; you don't replace or mess with something like that.

The first disc is the new album. The second disc is full of the sort of demos and alternate takes that make this release a document of how the album was created, not just a "for fans only" montage of outtakes. Among the tracks are Mercury's demos of several songs in which he sings both his AND Caballe's parts, often improvising wordless vocals for as-yet-unwritten lyrics. I won't bother you with a track-by-track description of this disc. But, there are a few surprises to anyone familiar with the album, these are not musical scraps. Hearing Caballé rehearse "Ensueño" with Mike Moran on the piano is a special treat. This is a great little art song. At a little under 40 minutes, disc two doesn't overstay its welcome.

The third disc is a DVD and it's full of treats, lots of them. Besides a smallish documentary about the making of the original album and the new version, there are very good looking transfers of the promotional videos done in the 1980s. They look good, although the original promotional video for "Barcelona" (the song) looks very mid-80s MTV-ish. More on this in a bit. As you would hope/expect, the videos employ the new orchestral score. This makes the performances of Mercury and Caballé even more vivid ("No synths!). You might say this is after-the-fact tampering and dishonest but the originals were lip-synched to begin with, so why not take this to the logical conclusion and add the new orchestral score? That's what show business is all about.

The original videos were done in the 4:3 format of 1980s television. I am grateful that this is how these videos are presented here, with one exception. When you go from a square-ish to a modern widescreen format, you either need to leave black areas at either side of the screen or chop off the tops and bottoms of the image. That latter option can completely ruin the original image (if you've seen the horrible chopped-and-stretched releases of Queen's videos by Eagle Entertainment, you'll know what I'm talking about). Universal, the company behind this release, have transferred the videos as originally shot. They look very good and the premiere of the song "Barcelona" in May of 1987 at the Ku Club in Ibiza looks spectacular, as if it were shot recently on motion picture stock, not video. You can kiss those awful YouTube uploads goodbye, forever! The three songs performed in Barcelona, in front of Montjuic Castle before a huge audience including the King and Queen of Spain, also look great, better than ever in spite of being shot on video. (Note: I watched this DVD on a 32" SONY Bravia HDTV with good speakers, so I'm pretty sure about how good this material looked and sounded.)

A minor disappointment is the presentation of the original "Barcelona" video, here called a "classic" video. The top and bottom of the image are sliced off. Besides making for a few awkward shots, this also means the video was enlarged and, folks, you just shouldn't do that with video footage from the 1980s. That is SO Eagle Entertainment! This is followed by the brief documentary about the making of the "Barcelona" original album and the new one. The DVD ends with a wonderful treat. The new score has been added to a newly edited version of the "classic" Barcelona video. In this version, alternate camera shots were used throughout and they appear to be from a much better source than seen before. It was edited very intelligently in 16:9 wide screen by the Rhys Thomas, one of the geniuses behind the 2011 documentary "Queen: Days of Our Lives" and the 2012 follow-up, "Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender." This new video has not only replaces the "classic" version in my heart, it also apologises for how it - the "classic" version - appears on this DVD.

Finally, Disc 4. It's nothing but the new score - without Mercury and Caballé - and that's practically karaoke paradise. All you have to do is be able to sing like Freddie Mercury or Montserrat Caballé.

How hard can that be?

This is more than just an upgrade to a better, more definitive version of an already wonderful album. It is an audio documentary of how that album was made. The discs are housed in a very posh book-style case. The brief essays are informative and not just giddy mushy anecdotes for the fans. It is printed on sturdy slick paper. The presentation is wonderful. For those who miss the original photos, they are included along with others we've probably never seen.

Some people have complained about the cover artwork and wondered how something that "cheap and tacky" wound up as the cover art (to an album they probably won't buy, anyway). I might not be as smart about art as Sister Wendy or the late Robert Hughes, but I'm pretty sure the splashy, vibrant cover art is an homage to Spanish painter and sculptor, Joan Miró (April 20, 1893 - December 25, 1983).

He was born in Barcelona.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Since the earlier review of this was so thorough, I will be uncharacteristically brief and not go into a lot of detail in my comments. This is a terrific 4-disc set and a "must" for fans of either Freddie or Montserrat or both. It was through YouTube that I first learned about the original "Barcelona" album and that was what introduced me to Montserrat Caballe. I was immediately intrigued, and now, some time later, I am a besotted fan and have thoroughly enjoyed listening to her in performances of opera arias, art songs, lieder..... It was a stroke of genius on Freddie Mercury's part and on Montserrat Caballe's part to collaborate on the "Barcelona" album and the unique pieces created for it. The two of them obviously enjoyed this project and it shows, both in their singing and in their performances on the videos.

I thought the original album was wonderful. This new version, with the full orchestration, by far outshines it. As someone said, this is the way Freddie probably envisioned it in the first place and I am sure that he would love this beautifully done interpretation of his original concept. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this really showcases the two singers and the music. I am very happy that this 25th-anniversary project was undertaken and has come to such terrific fruition. This collection of 4 discs is one to be enjoyed, time and time again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have little exposure to opera, but when I saw that violin genius David Garrett had worked on this I read further. I did like Freddie Mercury with Bohemian Rhapsody and the story about his work on this had me hooked. I took a chance and pre-ordered the new version. WHAT A PRIZE! The music is the type of thing that stays with you all day. Every so often, you can hear shades of "Queen" in it - a good thing. Ms. Caballe has an incredible voice and the blend with Mr. Mercury is truly a wonder. My favorite song is "The Fallen Priest" whose agony can be heard in the words and expressions of those who sing it. (Words were a collaboration with Tim Rice.) David Garrett adds his magic to "How Can I Go On" for another fine song. If you have an open ear to a musical adventure, this album is for you!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Barcelona

Given that this four-disc set contains material found elsewhere, I was able to find it for under $30 (including shipping, which was quick) and once I played "the" remastered and re-orchestrated disc, I was left speechless. WHAT A TRAGEDY we lost Freddie Mercury, at the young age of 45. This is musical and vocal brilliance personified. The DVD gets weepy, because you just want Freddie to be alive, and in this recording he truly is. WHAT A VOICE! And his pairing with Montserrat Caballé was nothing short of brilliant! Don't get me wrong: I love the Mike Moran "Barcelona" project which is mostly, if not all, piano, but this fully-fleshed out orchestral arrangement really gives you a further insight into what Freddie had in mind. He would have ROCKED the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but his tragic death such a short time before the Olympics really pushed this entire project under the rug. I'd say if you can manage to purchase this for around $30, it's a steal. The only complaint I have is with the shipper. It was just wrapped in cardboard (albeit corrugated) but still, not enough to prevent a nice ding on the bottom right corner of the outer packaging of the 4-disc set.

If you think Freddie Mercury is nothing more than Queen and his so-so solo effort Mr Bad Guy or The Great Pretender, get BARCELONA.

You'll wonder where that magnificent voice was all those years!

I'd give this six stars, but 5 is the limit!

Keep on singing Freddie. You've left us with an incredible legacy, and for that, I thank you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
If you are any kind of Freddie Mercury fan at all, you MUST own this CD. Even if you have the original Barcelona CD (as I do) you will not want to be without this musical jewel in your library. When I found out about this 2012 remake with a full orchestra I got very curious and thought, "just how different can this be?" I was blown away!! The orchestration is tremendous and even the vocals are clearer and crisper. I will even go as far to say that if you close your eyes while listening, it is almost like being at a live performance. I know, strong claim, but true. It is like Freddie has come to life and once again joined the great Montserrat Caballe. There are also two bonus tracks not on the original.CD. The first is an extended version of "How Can I Go On" incorporating a beautiful violin accompaniment by David Garrett and if you are a Queen fan, Roger Taylor's son Rufus, also makes contributions on the drums. The second bonus track is the song that Freddie composed for his first meeting with Montserrat Caballe , "Exercises in Free Love". This is Freddie's original vocal recording in a spot on soprano falsetto so that Montserrat could hear it performed in her vocal range. You need to buy this CD! You will not be disappointed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
There will never be another Freddy, so when something new comes along, it is a "Need to have". The remaster sounds great!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is a recording project that was a long-time coming and is warmly-welcomed now. The interviews released over the last several years with Ms. Caballe give clear indication of the deep friendship that she and Freddie shared. This connection comes across in the music. Some of the singing on this album is among Freddie's most beautiful--especially in his lower register. The orchestral arrangements and playing are top-notch, and beautifully recorded. A "must" for any Queen fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Wonderful! The remastered version with the full orchestra is superb. If you are a fan of Freddy or a secret Opera Buff you will love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Format: Audio CD
It's a great album with new arregement. Every note an sound is a travel to heaven.

God bless Freddie, God save Mercury.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Kudos to all who were involved in the making of the masterpiece which is Barcelona. Freddie would have certainly approve!
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