Symphony No. 40/Symphony No. 28/Overtures

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Music Menu Audio
Preview Trailers (12)
Travel Notes
Year Released 2000
Running Time 55:29 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director  
DVD International 
Starring Capella Istropolitana 
Barry Wordsworth
Case Amaray style, CD style disc clip
RPI $28.95 Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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

    In the world of classical music, an upstart company by the name of Naxos has over the past fourteen years emerged from Hong Kong to become arguably the biggest classical label in the world. How did it move from being a newcomer with a catalogue of fifty titles to the biggest classical label in the world, with a catalogue of over two thousand titles? By offering an unrivalled catalogue of non-duplicated titles, often in superb performances, at a super-budget price. Having been responsible for the virtual demise of several large classical labels, Naxos now intend to do to DVD what they did with CD. How are they going to do it? By providing some of their great music recordings as a backdrop to some wonderful vision of some of the great places and buildings of the world (or at least Europe) at a great price. To top it off, the recordings are being remastered not just in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, but also in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1! Not bad for a medium price range of DVDs! And so we get to take a look, and more importantly have a listen, to one of the first batch of six titles from the Naxos Musical Journey range, now available in Australia.

    The musical programme on this particular DVD comes from the consummate genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and comprises:

   There is certainly no disputing the musical quality on offer here. These recordings are rated very highly by The Penguin Guide To Compact Discs, and since they are all in my CD collection I can certainly attest to their general excellence. The orchestra may not be a well-known name, but all these recordings are rated three stars (the highest star rating in the guide). This is glorious music that bears repeated listening with absolute ease. The Penguin Guide describes these as consistently refreshing and enjoyable performances, and I thoroughly agree.

    The visual accompaniment to the music is quite decent, too. Symphony No. 40 is accompanied by a visual tour of the very famous Neustift Monastery, located in Southern Tyrol in Italy. Visually, this is a gorgeous building, and it is shown to good effect here - especially the magnificent frescoes which are shown in all their glory during the second movement of the symphony. Symphony No. 28 is accompanied by some of the visual delights of the beautiful city of Innsbruck in Austria. Like many old cities of Europe, it has some magnificent old buildings and a fair display of them is presented here. The overtures are also accompanied by footage of Innsbruck.

    Whilst not being absolutely convinced of the presentation method, I nonetheless found this to be an enjoyable way of spending an hour - wonderful music accompanied by some wonderful visuals. Overall, it is probably better than just watching a conductor conduct an orchestra.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented Full Frame 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 quite wonderful video transfers: generally very sharp with loads of detail to be found. Obviously, the detail is needed as the ornate detail in the frescoes in particular is quite spectacular. Shadow detail is somewhat lacking for the very reason that in general the whole video programme has been shot in such a way as to make the most of whatever light was available, meaning that there is little opportunity for shadow detail to come into play. The transfers are wonderfully clear and there is no problem at all with respect to grain. There was just the odd hint on occasions of low level noise in the transfer but nothing that was especially distracting.

    The colour here is staggering! This is as gorgeous a looking transfer as you could expect. On offer here are magnificently rendered colours, wonderfully vibrant and capturing the magnificence of the locations. This is so good-looking, I almost jumped onto the Internet to book tickets to visit these locations in real life! I wish I saw more feature films that looked this good as far as colour goes. 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 visual aspect of the transfer was in the early portion of the video of Innsbruck, where the tone was just a little overexposed owing to sunlight. This however is not a transfer problem but a source material problem.

    There generally are not any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfers. There is a rather consistent problem with film-to-video artefacts, most noticeably aliasing throughout the transfer. This may however partially be the result of this being an NTSC transfer, as just about any horizontal line shimmers noticeably during a panned shot. The third movement of Symphony No. 40 was rather plagued by something of a moiré artefacting problem. 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


    Of course, the important thing here is the sound, as we really are here to listen to the music, not to enjoy the visual delights of a monastery and Innsbruck. There are three soundtracks on offer on this DVD, being Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. These are not flagged as language soundtracks, as they simply are music soundtracks. Since the real reason I indulged in this DVD was due to that little red DTS logo on the back cover, I listened to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack, whilst making the odd sampling of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The music comes through wonderfully well on the two soundtracks I sampled.

    The DTS soundtrack is very good indeed, presenting the sort of resonant sound that you expect at a concert venue, but not from a CD. The sound tends to came at you from all angles just like the reflective sound in a concert hall, although it perhaps does not quite have the instrument separation that is known in a concert hall. The surround channel use is extremely effective and the bass channel use is nicely complementary. The only time that there was a slight letdown was in the bass channel in the Overture to Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. This famous overture is noted for the percussive, repetitive nature of the tune: in the DTS soundtrack the percussive effect becomes just a little too percussive in my view. But I will say that I could not resist the temptation to turn the volume up here and really get that DTS bass enhancement going big time! The Overture really does benefit from it, I can assure you. Overall, this is not the best DTS soundtrack I have heard (on the relative experience of four such soundtracks!), but is still a very good and effective one. There are no complaints about the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack either, where surround channel use is good, as is the bass channel use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    I suppose there is not much that one could expect in the way of extras on such a DVD, and indeed we do not get too much! It is a great pity that the opportunity for some biographical details of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not taken, and perhaps some greater detail on the respective video subjects.


    Nicely done but not likely to be used very much. There is some reasonable audio enhancement from Symphony No. 40.

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. The technical quality of the trailers I watched was not great, suffering somewhat from MPEG compression problems.

Travel Notes

    These are presented for each chapter, detailing extremely briefly 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.


    This is a rather decent release - magnificent visuals accompanying some of the great music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Well worth adding to the collection if you fancy a dabble in classical music. The only real complaints about the package are 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 so all your DVD player will display is the useful message "play".

    A very good video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A poorish extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
24th September 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