|Category||Music||Biography - Cast
(not 46 minutes as stated on packaging)
|Region||1,2,3,4,5,6||Director||Herbert Von Karajan
|Starring||Herbert Von Karajan
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Linear PCM 2.0 48/16)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Subtitles||No||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Antonio Vivaldi composed over 550 concertos of all kinds, and in that body of work he demonstrated an amazing degree of vitality and ingenuity and freshness that has resulted in the rediscovery over the last forty years of some truly wonderful music. Such gems as his 27 solo cello concertos are even today barely making it into the music catalogue, and yet the music borders upon the divine. So much of this great composer's work remains unrecorded, yet The Four Seasons get recorded so regularly that barely a month goes by without a new version appearing on compact disc somewhere around the world. Amongst all those recordings that have been made, there are a few stand-outs and a whole heap of dogs. I can with all honesty state that this is not a stand-out performance. Where it falls on the scale thereafter I leave to your imagination. The essence of Vivaldi's work, and indeed in all of the music of the Baroque period is in the freshness and vitality of the music. This is music that is as uplifting as you can get in purely orchestral music. You would not know it from this stolid and uninspiring performance. Recorded on 28th October, 1987 at the opening concert of the Chamber Music Hall at the Berlin Philharmonie, the audience ovation to the piece is sadly misguided. Mind you, in 1987 Herbert Von Karajan so ruled Berlin from a music point of view that had he come out and played chop sticks on a set of bongo drums, he would have received rave reviews. I believe the technical term is cloth ears - you would certainly need them to rave over this performance.
A stolid, uninspiring performance of the most popular piece of classical music of all time, this is not something that I would be jumping up and down about. Add to that the fact that this has received a fairly mediocre video transfer and there is little to induce me to recommend it at all. You would need to be a seriously hard-core Herbert Von Karajan or Anne-Sophie Mutter fan to consider this worthy enough of indulging in a purchase.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. This is another of the PAL transfers from Sony, presumably sourced from Europe, rather than an NTSC transfer.
Unfortunately, this particular transfer suffers more than most releases in the series from the limitations of the source material. At best, the sharpness can only be described as average, as significant portions of the transfer seem to be subtly out-of-focus, and this is not aided by a rather restricted depth of field to the video. Combined with the rather more obviously out-of-focus sections of the video, and it has to be said that I am just a little disappointed with the image presented here. The overall detail is not particular great as a result, although the longer shots of the interior of the hall show a distinct improvement in this regard. Shadow detail is not much of an issue here as there is limited scope for it to become an issue thanks to the roundish design of the hall and the generally all-encompassing lighting adopted. What really harms the transfer is that it suffers quite extensively from grain, ranging from quite mild to pretty awful, with a tendency towards the latter end of the scale more frequently than the former end. There does not appear to be any significant problems with low level noise in the transfer.
There is a distinct lack of quality in the colours here, although it has to be said that the rather muted colours are probably more the result of the clothing worn by the performers rather than anything else. Predominantly blacks, they are also mildly annoying in not really being deep in tone. The colour is distinctly light black/dark grey in feel rather than something nice and deep in colour. The overall tone seems to be a little on the anaemic side of the scale, and this really could have done with a bit of manipulating to overcome the blandness of the source material. There is no hint of oversaturation of colours at all and colour bleed is also not a problem.
There are no problems with MPEG artefacts in the
transfer. Film-to-video artefacts are again confined to some minor aliasing
problems, once again mainly on the string instruments. Film artefacts were
absent from the transfer.
There did not seem to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.
The first thing I noticed here is the fact that despite
everything indicating that this is a 5.1 soundtrack, there is no action
at all as far as I can tell out of the bass channel. It is suspected therefore
that the bass channel is silent, since the .1 channel is certainly flagged
to my player. Other than that, this is a remarkably unremarkable soundtrack!
Surround channel use, both front and rear, is quite decent and there is
a nice encompassing feel to the sound, but there is really nothing much
in the way of dynamics in the soundtrack to allow the music to really sing
(as The Four Seasons really should). This is partly the result of
the style of playing adopted methinks, but also a reflection of the recording
venue and engineering. I simply cannot help but feel that the strings were
not given as much space in the mixing as was necessary, with the result
that there seemed to be a little loss of detail in the string sound. However,
this may also be a reflection of my lack of enthusiasm for the performance
of Anne-Sophie Mutter. The Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack is a much brighter
sounding effort that seems to carry the string sound much better than the
Dolby Digital soundtrack, much closer to the sort of biting string sound
that you would get from a compact disc recording, and the sort of sound
that makes this music sing. Personally, I much prefer the brighter string
sound of this soundtrack than the surround enhancement of the Dolby Digital
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
1st 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|