|Category||Music||Main Menu Audio
Notes - Credits
Preview Trailers (12)
(not 56 minutes as stated on packaging)
|Starring||Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
|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|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
6th November 2000
|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|