Die Schoepfung (The Creation)

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Booklet
Main Menu Animation
Year Released 1992
Running Time
106:10 minutes
(not 109 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Elizabeth Birke-Malzer
Arthaus Musik 
Starring Edith Mathis
Christoph Pregardien
Rene Pape
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Festival Choir Lucerne
Peter Schreier
Case Super Jewel Case
RPI $39.95 Music Joseph Haydn

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Moving right along with another instalment in the initial batch of DVDs from Arthaus Musik, we chart a somewhat different course than the first DVD reviewed. Rather than music of the late Romantic period, we this time investigate one of the high points of the late Classical period from Joseph Haydn. Funnily enough, this is a piece of music that has so far eluded inclusion in my compact disc collection, so this is the first time that I have actually listened to an entire performance. Composed in 1797, the work is predominantly based upon the famous John Milton poem, Paradise Lost. Its long gestation saw the first performance given in Vienna on 29th April, 1798, with the first public performance in Vienna on 19th March, 1799.

    Amongst composers of the eighteenth century, two names stand above all others - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being one of course, and the other being Joseph Haydn. Amongst his formidable body of work, he is perhaps best known for his 104 symphonies, his 84 string quartets and his 62 piano sonatas. Joseph Haydn was nothing if not prolific, but his command of the vocal genres was no less impressive and Die Schoepfung is amongst the very best pieces that he composed. Whilst this is not a competitor for the greatest performance ever committed to posterity, it is nonetheless an enjoyable enough performance. It helps that the conductor is the great tenor, Peter Schreier, as he understands the demands of vocal works as well as anyone and thus provides a sympathetic accompaniment from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The soloists are in general good, and there is a lot of enthusiasm as well as musicality from the choir.

   Whilst having certain quibbles about the presentation here, the overall impression is again favourable and there are certainly indications that the Arthaus range will provide plenty of pleasure. Whilst this particular DVD is perhaps more suited to the specialist classical music buff than the odd dabbler in the field, it is a work that deserves to be seen and heard more frequently.

Transfer Quality


    Once again, we have received a pleasantly surprising transfer that is in general very good. However there are just a couple of minor flaws that deny this a higher rating than it has achieved.

    The transfer is presented Full Frame and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a generally very sharp and detailed transfer that certainly brings out well the venue of the recording (alas, the details of which are sadly missing from the DVD package). Shadow detail is again good. The transfer is also very clear and completely free from grain. There are no low level noise problems with the transfer.

    The overall colour palette is generally very good with a nice rich tone to the whole transfer. I certainly have no complaints here at all. Indeed, some of the shots of instruments are amongst the best I have ever seen, with nice consistent rich tones to the wood of the string instruments to complement the clear and detailed image. Whilst the skin tones may be a little on the pale side, I would suspect that this is a reflection of the source material accuracy rather than mastering problems. There is no problem with oversaturation here, nor any issue with colour bleed. The only real "complaint" is that the transfer has just a little problem with the very glittery, and appallingly-coloured, dress worn by Edith Mathis.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer, other than what may be some slight pixelization in some of the shots with the organ in the very back of the venue. This time around there is far less of a problem with film-to-video artefacts, although aliasing is still present, most notably in the music books held by the singers. There are far less problems with instrument strings than I was expecting, although just the odd instance does raise its head. There is some noticeable wobble in the image at 47:55, but I am not certain as to whether this was introduced by the telecine process or is inherent in the source material. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer, although it should be noted that there is a visible flaw in the source material at 71:11, where the audio drops out briefly accompanied by a slight "flash" in the video.

    Interestingly, the programme has no opening credits and no closing credits - push play and you are straight into the music, and when it is all over you get the bows and it is finished. This is somewhat unusual, to say the least.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one audio track on this DVD, being a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. The reference to a Dolby stereo soundtrack on the packaging is incorrect.

    The music comes up very well in the transfer, as do the vocals from the choir. However, there is something of a problem with the vocals from the soloists, as these really are not too well-balanced in the overall sound mix. The result is that the volume needs to be turned up just a little here to aid the clarity of the soloists.

    There is nothing much else to say about the audio side of things on this DVD. Obviously, there is no use of the rear surround channels at all, nor any use of the bass channel. There does not appear to be even that much use of the front surround channels. The soundtrack generally sounds good though, apart from that slight imbalance in the soloists sound levels and the venue does provide a lot of bloom to the sound. The soundtrack is completely free from distortion, although there is a rather noticeable audio glitch at 58:48 where the music jumps, suggesting that one or two notes have gone astray somewhere in the process. Being a Linear PCM soundtrack, it obviously sounds very similar to what we would expect on a compact disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    I really would have thought that at least something could have been found to include here, considering that Joseph Haydn was one of the most prolific composers of all time.


    Quite stylishly done, nice and clean and looking quite good. There is some minor animation.


    Whilst not an overly extensive effort, it does at least provide some nice basic detail about the music and the performers, but could have been a lot more extensive. My only real complaint is that nowhere does it mention when or where the performances were actually recorded, other than sometime in 1992. This sort of detail really needs to be included here.

R4 vs R1

    This is identical to the Region 1 release other than presumably NTSC formatting, making the Region 4 PAL release a slightly better choice I would think unless the mastering of the audio is significantly better (which I would think is doubtful).


    Haydn - Die Schoepfung provides another favourable impression of the Arthaus Musik range in Region 4, but again the overall package is slightly let down by a couple of minor issues. Lovers of the genre or the piece should not have much hesitation in grabbing this one, but I really would have to say that my recommendation is just a little qualified. Slight flaws in the video I can live with in music DVDs, but audio flaws are an entirely different matter, however minor.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
22nd October 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL