Johann Strauss in Berlin (Nikolaus Harnoncourt) (DVD-Audio) (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Jan-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Booklet
Biographies-Cast-Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Credits
Featurette-Mehta-Mahler Symphony No. 2
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 71:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Wolfgang Mohr
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Johann Strauss


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Here is an interesting concept: the music of the quintessential Viennese Johann Strauß, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt - one of the leading "authentic" interpreters of our day. However, the music is not performed by Viennese musicians but by none other than the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. A bit of a mismatch, don't you think?

    Not so, explains Nikolaus in the liner notes. Nikolaus was born in Berlin but was classically trained as a cellist in Vienna, so he is well aware of the differences that an orchestra's country of origin can make to the delicate and subtly Viennese sound of Strauß. He starts off by acknowledging that he once heard some German folk songs played by Americans in New England and they were almost unrecognisable to him.

    But then he makes a convincing case that the rhythmic subtleties of Strauß' music may in fact have been exaggerated over the years by the Viennese themselves as all the little nuances of performance become more pronounced from one generation to the next. As "tradition" and the Viennese sound is handed down across generations "a little mud sticks to it."

    Nikolaus also points out that Strauß visited Berlin a number of times and had conducted a number of concerts there. So we are led to believe this is a collection of Strauß pieces as Strauß himself may have conducted it with a Berlin orchestra, hence the title of the album: Johann Strauß in Berlin.

    There may be something in all that, because as I started spinning the disc I was struck by how "different" the music sounds - the melodies were all there and the arrangements authentic to a fault, and yet it was as if I were hearing the waltzes and polkas for the very first time.

    Even if you are not a fan of Strauß, have a listen to this. You will probably be surprised, like me.

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Track Listing

1. Kaiserwalzer Op. 437
2. Ouverture Eine Nacht In Venedig
3. Die Tauben Von San Marco Polka
4. Fruhlingsstimmenwalzer Op. 410
5. Ouverture (Die Fledermaus)
6. Seid Umschlungen, Millonen Walzer
7. Lob Der Frauen Polka Mazur, Op. 315
8. Simplicius-Walzer (Donauweibchen)
9. Tritsch-Tratsch – Schnellpolka
10. Kaiser Franzn Josef I. Rettungs

Transfer Quality

Video

    Like most of the Warner DVD-Audio discs released to date, the video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. Each musical piece is accompanied by four illustrations.

Audio

    This is an early DVD-Audio release, so there are only two audio tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) on the DVD-Video part of the disc, and MLP 96/24 5.1 on the DVD-Video part of the disc.

    I must admit, I am not normally a fan of Strauß music, but I really enjoyed listening to this album. Part of it was because of the fresh interpretation, but I suspect a lot of it is because of the excellent multi-channel recording.

    This is a rather conservative "you are in the best seat in the hall" approach to presenting the music. All three front channels are active, and the rear channels are mainly used for conveying hall reverb and ambience.

    The soundstage presented is extremely three dimensional and realistic - I felt that the living room disappeared and I was teleported to the venue with the orchestra right in front of me. Every detail was perfect - location of instruments, natural attack and decay of the various orchestra sounds, and hall ambience/reverb.

    The subwoofer is lightly used to enhance the low frequencies in the music.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track in comparison is not as captivating or involving as the MLP track, though sonically it is quite similar. I lost the sense of "being there" and somehow the music seemed more distant and less captivating.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a very minimal disc. All the extras are on the DVD-Audio part of the disc - the DVD Video section is bare bones.

Menu

    Full frame and static.

Booklet

    This is a 28 page booklet consisting of black & white and colour photos/artwork, track listing, an essay by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (in English, German and French), biographies of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, instructions for using the DVD-Audio disc, musician and production credits, and a listing of other DVD-Audio titles available from Teldec.

Biographies - Cast - Nikolaus Harnoncourt

    This is a single still (dated 2000) providing a brief biography of Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Credits

    This is a single still providing the DVD Audio production credits.

Featurette-Mehta-Mahler Symphony No. 2 (3:28)

    This is a selection from Mahler's Symphony No. 2 performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, followed by a short interview except with Zubin Mehta, and ending with footage of the orchestra playing the piece. I am not sure why this is relevant as an extra for this album apart from being a promotional trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc appears to be identically featured across all regions.

Summary

    Johann Strauß in Berlin is a collection of Strauss waltzes and polkas performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

    This is a rather minimalist disc containing only an MLP 5.1 96/24 track in the DVD-Audio section and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in the DVD-Video section. The audio quality is excellent.

    Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, February 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-A1, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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