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  • Symphonic Music Adventure, Custom Audio Art of Systematism: Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko, The Snow Maden, The Tale of Tsar Saltan (includes Flight of the Bumblebee virtual synthesis by Alexander Jero) [7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Disc] [Blu-ray]
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Symphonic Music Adventure, Custom Audio Art of Systematism: Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko, The Snow Maden, The Tale of Tsar Saltan (includes Flight of the Bumblebee virtual synthesis by Alexander Jero) [7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Disc] [Blu-ray]

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Blu-ray Audio, November 20, 2012
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Video: Masterpieces from Greatest Artists of All Times (Slideshow 1080p HD)

Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 24/96k

Systematism in Audio Arts represents Artistic View and Exploration of possibilities of Sound that started with Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877 until the 1950s. Second stage of Stereo was based on inventions from the 1930s, reached the public in the mid-'50s, and has provided great listening Pleasure for four decades. Stereo improved the reproduction of timbre and added two dimensions of space: the left- right spread of performers across a Stage, and a set of acoustic cues that allow listeners to perceive a front-to-back dimension.
Current Age represented by Multichannel surround sound technology, natural involving presence in A way that is robust, reliable and consistent there each individual sound can has its Unique location in 3-dimensional space.

This music-only Blu-ray discs delivers 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio if and when connections are made with 1.3 and/or 1.4 HDMI cables. If connected with optical cables it will only deliver 5.1 or 6.1 standard DTS quality sound. For the purpose of this review I only used high-speed 1.3 cables connecting the Blu-ray player and the 7.2 AV receiver. I should mention that the present receiver is one of Onkyo s new generation of THX-certified products built around high quality Burr-Brown DACs. The DTS-HD MA encoding of this recording as connected with 1.3 HDMI cables produces a variable bit rate (VBR), bit-for-bit (lossless) stream that includes 7.1 channels with sample rates of 96 kHz. Just as well the DTS-HD MA-encoded files also contain a backward-compatible DTS Digital Surround 5.1 (and 6.1) core with a bit rate of 1509 kbps. However, this review concerns itself only with 7.1 DTS-HD MA channels reproduction. The unique acoustic reality experience that his recording affords to my ears as to the musical phrasing and playing of these two very complex scorings, the orchestral presence, instrumental sections separation, high and low dynamics and instrumental solos are far superior to anything I have heard on so-called true surround recordings. We are placed at the same location that the conductor assumes in the podium, we are not part of the audience - we hear what the conductor hears. Orchestral sound is very close and all around, especially the sound coming out of the two side-surround speakers. In my mind the use of these side speakers totally redefines surround sound; this is a new experience and something to behold. -- John Nemaric (Audiophile Audition Review)


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote his 'musical tableau' Sadko, Op. 5, in 1867 but revised the work in 1869 and 1892. It has sometimes been called the first symphonic poem written in Russia. It was first performed in 1867 at a concert of the Russian Musical Society, conducted by Mily Balakirev. Mily Balakirev, leader of the Russian nationalist music group 'The Five', was long fascinated with Anton Rubinstein's Europeanising Ocean Symphony and wanted to create a more specifically Russian alternative. Music critic Vladimir Stasov suggested the legend of Sadko and wrote a program for this work,giving it to Balakirev in 1861.At first Balakirev relayed the program to Modest Mussorgsky, who did nothing with it. (Mussorgsky's comment to Balakirev on hearing Rubinstein's Ocean Symphony was 'Oh Ocean, oh puddle' he had much preferred Rubinstein's conducting of the work over the work itself.) Mussorgsky eventually offered the program to Rimsky-Korsakov, after he had long given up on it. Balakirev agreed, counting on the naval officer's love of the sea to help him produce results.
Instead of direct experience of the sea, Rimsky-Korsakov fell back on Franz Liszt's symphonic poem Ce Qu'on entend sur la montagne for inspiration. Acting as bookends to the middle of the work are two sketches of the calm, gently rippling sea. While Rimsky-Korsakov took the harmonic and modulatory basis of these sections from the opening of Liszt's Montagne, he admitted the chord passage closing these sections were purely his own.The central section comprises music portraying Sadko's underwater journey, the feast of the Sea King and the Russian dance that leads the work to its climax. Typical of Rimsky's modesty and self-criticism, he offers several influences for this section: Mikhail Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila, Balakirev's 'Song of the Goldfish' Alexander Dargomyzhsky's Russalka and Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Rimsky-Korsakov chose the principal tonalities of the piece D-flat major, D major and D flat major specifically to please Balakirev, who had an exclusive prediliction for them in those days.
Rimsky-Korsakov began the work in June 1867 during a three-week holiday at his brother's summer villa in Tervaïoki, near Vyborg. A month's naval cruise in the Gulf of Finland proved only a temporary interruption; by October 12, he was finished.He wrote Mussorgsky that he was satisfied with it and that it was the best thing he had composed to date, but that he was weak from the intense strain of composition and needed to rest.
Rimsky-Korsakov felt that several factors combined to make the piece a success—the originality of his task; the form that resulted; the freshness of the dance tune and the singing theme with its Russian characteristics; and the orchestration, caught as by a miracle, despite my imposing ignorance in the realm of orchestration. While he remained pleased with Sadko's form, Rimsky-Korsakov remained discontented with its brevity and sparseness, adding that writing the work in a broader format would have been more appropriate for Stasov's program. He attributed this extreme conciseness to his lack of compositional experience. Nevertheless, Balakirev was pleased with the work, paying Sadko a combination of patronization and encouraging admiration. He conducted its premiere that December.


The Snow Maiden: A Spring Fairy Tale is an opera in four acts with a prologue by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, composed during 1880-1881. The Russian libretto, by the composer, is based on the like-named play by Alexander Ostrovsky (which had premiered in 1873 with incidental music by Tchaikovsky). The first performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera took place at the Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg on 29 January 1882. By 1898 it was revised in the edition known today. It remained the composer's own favorite work.

Suite from the opera The Snow Maiden includes:
2.Dance of the Birds
3.Procession of Tsar Berendey (Cortege)
4.Dance of the Skomorokhi (Dance of the Tumblers)
The story deals with the opposition of eternal forces of nature and involves the interactions of mythological characters (Frost, Spring, Wood-Sprite), real people (Kupava, Mizgir'), and those in-between, i.e., half-mythical, half-real (Snow Maiden, Lel Berendey). The composer strove to distinguish each group of characters musically, and several individual characters have their own associated leitmotifs. In addition to these distinctions, Rimsky-Korsakov characterized the townspeople particularly with folk melodies. For a deeper understanding of this work from the composer's point of view, the reader is directed to his autobiography, as well as to his own incomplete analysis of the opera from 1905.

The Tale of Tsar Saltan is an opera in four acts with a prologue, seven scenes, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by Vladimir Belsky, and is based on the poem of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin. The opera was composed in 1899-1900 to coincide with Pushkin's centenary, and was first performed in 1900 in Moscow, Russia.
The lengthy full title of both the opera and the poem is The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan. The name 'Saltan' is often erroneously rendered 'Sultan'. Likewise, another mistranslation of the Russian title found in English makes this a legend rather than simply a 'tale' or 'fairytale'.

Suite from the Opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Op. 57 (1903)
1.Introduction to Act I: 'The Tsar's Departure And Farewell'
2.Introduction to Act II: 'The Tsaritsa and Her Son Afloat in the Barrel'
3.Introduction to Act IV, Tableau 2: 'The Three Wonders'
The 'Flight of the Bumblebee' is also performed in countless arrangements at concerts and recitals, but is not part of the Suite.

Modern recording techniques have come alarmingly far in just a few short years. I've had the pleasure of having several commercial recordings released, and my earliest days in the recording studio were spent amid the flutter of reel to reel tapes. Later, exciting 'improvements' like audio Betamax (yep, you read that right) and then digital media like ADATs came into play. Over the past couple of decades-plus, we've seen the advent of hard drive recording systems, with the ubiquitous use of bells and whistles like ProTools, which can make even amateurs (are you listening, Ashlee Simpson?) sound at least passable, what with pitch correction, WAV editing and the like. Casual listeners to modern day product might be quite surprised to see how a recording is assembled, and assembled is, for better or worse, the correct term. Even back in the days of analog recordings, it wasn't unusual for rhythm tracks to be laid down first, often with 'scratch'; vocals, and then for the vocalist to come in to take their final version at a later date. While editing was certainly a more involved procedure back in the day, tape editors became so facile with their 'archaic' medium that even syllables could be fairly seamlessly fixed for a final product. (Anyone wanting a good laugh should listen to John Barry's commentary on You Only Live Twice, where he details the editing lengths they had to go to get a final take of Nancy Sinatra's vocal on the title tune). However, as often as pop, rock and even Broadway cast recordings were 'assembled' in the halcyon days of the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, even after the advent of hard drive recording, you could count on one genre to preserve at least a semblance of the 'live' ensemble experience, and that was of course classical music. Not anymore. Choral composers like Eric Whitacre have pioneered the idea of a 'virtual choir' where people separated by continents are able to 'join together' to sing via such media as YouTube. And now we are introduced to an 'assembled' orchestra under the 'virtual baton' of Alexander Jero. Jero has been a pioneer in audio Blu-ray and has released several outstanding discs where he's licensed previously recorded material and repurposed for hi-def audio in often rather striking surround versions. Jero is recording a glut of classical warhorses anew, hiring college students to come into his private studio to work under his own baton. However, these are not live ensemble recordings in the traditional sense. Jero brings sections in separately, and records them, often utilizing previous recordings as reference material. He then assembles the final product in the mixing room. It's an unusual approach for a genre as hopefully organic as classical music, and listeners' reactions may be colored by the knowledge that high tech wizardry has at least helped to craft the architecture of any given performance.

--Jeffry Kauffman (

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