Italian Festival

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Main Menu Audio
Notes - Credits
Preview Trailers (12)
Travel Notes
Year Released 2000
Running Time
52:15 minutes
(not 56 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director G Gachot
DVD International 
Starring Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) 
Ondrej Lenard
Case Amaray Claw
RPI $28.95 Music Various

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio (DTS 5.1)
Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Audio (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 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

    Our little foray through the Naxos Musical Journey brings us to one of the two compilation DVDs, for want of a better term, in the initial batch. This one brings together a number of shorter musical works with a supposedly distinctive Italian feel to them, so obviously it gets called Italian Festival, even though I am fairly sure that Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt and Jules Massenet were anything but of Italian extraction. At least the music does generally have an Italian feel to it, though. The actual pieces on offer here are:     If these are broadly unfamiliar to you, it is hardly surprising. This is certainly a collection of generally unheralded music that certainly does not grace the music catalogues in great abundance, and it has to be said that there are generally good reasons why. Although none of these really have greatness emanating from them, there are at least charming in their own way and they make reasonably apt accompaniments to the visual tour of Italy that we enjoy here.

   Sadly, the current issue of the "bible" - The Penguin Guide To Compact Discs - is a little bit silent on these performances and unfortunately the equivalent CD does not grace my collection, so I cannot fall back upon my personal recollections. However, listening here to the music, the performances seem to be decent enough if lacking in a degree of sparkle and certainly lacking a little in distinction. Still, fairly enjoyable stuff nonetheless and since I doubt that you will find anything better in some of these works, they have something of a unique draw from the music point of view.

    The visual accompaniment to the music is again quite decent, with just the odd obvious effort. The Leoncavallo and Cui pieces are accompanied by scenes of the beautiful seaside town of Sestri Levant, south of Genoa. The Massenet is accompanied by scenes in and around the town of Montepulciano and more particularly the Contucci Vineyards. Montepulciano also gets to accompany the piece from Gounod along with the 16th Century Church of The Madonna di San Biagio. The short piece by Denza is rather humorously accompanied by visuals of the funicular railway of Genoa (well at least I think it is humorous). The piece from Godard is rather obviously accompanied by scenes from Florence, including some of those magnificent fountains and a copy of Michelangelo's David. We return to Montepulciano for the music of Liszt before rounding out the show in one of the most inspiring cities on earth, Venice, an obvious accompaniment to the piece from Mendelssohn. This is a thankfully more esoteric collection of images than I was expecting and that makes the images all the more worthwhile.

    Okay, the presentation method still fails to convince me, but this is a pleasant enough way to spend just under an hour listening to some decent music with some nice images of Italy. Hopefully Naxos will pursue this line of music and let us have their rather good version of Respighi's Roman Trilogy - Feste Romane, The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome - to go along with this release. One thing that does stop an unequivocal welcome to this release however is the ongoing problems this series has with aliasing, and I would think that this would look fairly ordinary on a big screen.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and is not 16x9 enhanced. The transfer is an NTSC effort so you will require a display device capable of accepting such a signal.

    In general, these are again very nice video transfers: generally very sharp with plenty of detail to be found. After the slight disappointment of the earlier reviewed Handel disc, this one seemed to be showing a general return to the favourable impressions of the Mozart DVD. However, as you get further into the programme, the general quality of the video transfer seems to drop just a little, and at times low level noise does become quite an issue. The transfers are generally very clear and do not seem to unduly suffer from any grain problems, other than perhaps during some of the fade-outs from one scene to another. Shadow detail is generally very good.

    The colours are generally speaking very well handled, being a generally bright and vibrant palette with a rather magnificent look to them at times. There is no hint of oversaturation here at all. There is nothing approaching colour bleed in the transfer. The only problem at all with the colour is in the piece by Cui where at one point the image has a distinct, and slightly off-putting flicker in the colours.

    There generally are not any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfers, although just once or twice there seemed to be some hint of pixelization in the background scenery. The ever-present problem of aliasing that is to some extent plaguing this series is again present. The transfer starts out all right but soon enough the little signs emerge and by the time you get to the Gounod piece, it is like it was always there. How much of this is inherent in the NTSC format and how much is a result of mastering I don't know, but the result is the same and I truly wish that this problem is corrected before the second batch of DVDs arrives in Region 4. There is nothing much in the way of film artefacts to worry about here at all.

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


    After the relative disaster of the 5.1 soundtracks on the Handel disc, it is a pleasure to hear some return to form here. Indeed, if anything there is just a little understating of the bass here, but far more preferable to understate it rather than overstate it in the mix.

    There are three soundtracks on offer on this DVD, being a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. These are not flagged as language soundtracks, as they simply are music soundtracks. I listened to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack, whilst making samplings of the Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks.

    The DTS soundtrack provides a nice, all encompassing sound, but with a slightly restrained bass effect that makes this rather pleasant listening at a slightly reduced volume. Not quite background music, but not at all brash. The rear surround channels are rather nicely recessed, which results in a nice forward balance to the overall soundscape that is rather appealing. Whilst I would still not suggest that this is the epitome of a superbly mastered soundtrack, it is a welcome improvement. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is rather similarly displaying a restrained bass channel, and has an overall feel similar to the DTS, just a little more restrained overall as is to be expected. The surround channel use here is perhaps not quite as good as the DTS effort, but I really have little complaint with what is offered. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is another winner here, and whilst the preference would be for either of the 5.1 efforts, if you have to stick with 2.0 sound then are is certainly no complaints here. Turn the volume up here just a little and this really does sound very good indeed. None of the soundtracks are especially bright and that is perhaps the main issue here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Another consistent package, identical with the earlier releases reviewed in the series, and much the same complaints can be raised here, too.


    Nicely done, with some nice audio enhancement from Mattinata.

Preview Trailers (12)

    These are all presented full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and are not 16x9 enhanced. The other DVDs in the series are covered, as are some other titles that are released locally by Wild Releasing and a few titles that are not available locally (Aquaria and More Tales Of A City). The technical quality is once again not great, suffering quite noticeably at times from MPEG compression problems, as well as shimmer and what looks like moiré artefacting.

Notes - Credits

Travel Notes

    These are presented for each chapter, extremely briefly detailing the subject matter of that chapter. Nice but nowhere near extensive enough.

R4 vs R1

    This is the identical release to that in Region 1.


    After the disappointment of the Handel disc, this is a generally better effort overall with far fewer audio problems. However, the video transfers still leave a little to be desired and after three DVDs in the series, it has to be said that the aliasing problems in particular are starting to become far too noticeable for my taste. Still, if you can ignore the aliasing, this is a pleasant enough watch and the music is not too shabby either. Cue the same comments regarding the rather poorish DVD case - it is extremely difficult to get the DVD out of the case - and the fact that the entire DVD has no time information encoded, nor any real chaptering, so all your DVD player will display is the useful message "play".

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
6th November 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