Handel-Messiah: A Sacred Oratorio (2002)
Menu Animation & Audio
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||135:32 (Case: 132)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (55:00)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Lindesay Dresdon|
Universal Pictures Home Video
Teddy Tahu Rhodes
|RPI||$36.95||Music||George Frideric Handel|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Audio dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Published in 1741, Messiah comes from late in the Baroque period of music. At this time orchestras were considerably smaller than the "modern" symphony orchestra, more closely resembling the chamber orchestra in being based around the harpsichord. Messiah is an oratorio - a form of music that contained dramatic lyrics like an opera, but that is staged as a concert, without sets or acting, and a form of music of which Handel was very fond.
All lyrics in Messiah are taken from The Bible, and are used to tell the story of God who loves his people so much that he sends a Messiah to redeem them. While that may seem to be somewhat religious - largely because it is - that should not affect anyone's judgement of it. Regardless of religious background or ideals, Messiah is renowned as one of the greatest musical works ever produced for a reason - the combination of exquisitely beautiful music and an epic story (even for those who are non-religious, The Bible is still one of the most highly regarded literary texts), and a story sung in English no less, leads to a musical experience that is enjoyable and refreshing every time.
Messiah has been performed at least once a year, every year since its first performance in Dublin in 1742. This performance, while not up there with some of the very best, is at least totally competent, and well put together. The visual presentation can be a little disconcerting (the extreme close-ups on the solo vocalists are confronting, and a little off-putting to say the least), and the setting and staging are quite disappointing, looking drab and very minimalist. Additionally, the director apparently felt the need to use some very strange focusing to get the solo vocalists and the conductor - at opposite sides of the screen - in focus at the same time, causing the orchestra between to become a blur. However, it is the music that is the most important, and that is beautiful as ever - just switch the TV off, and enjoy.
Presented at 1.78:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced. It is difficult to know if this is the intended aspect ratio. The extreme close-ups of the solo vocalists would suggest that the image has actually been cropped from 1.33:1, but I cannot confirm this.
The transfer is a little on the soft side. The image displays only just enough detail to be watchable, but no more. It is as if the entire transfer is being viewed though every-so-slightly opaque glass - not enough to actually be seen, but just enough to obscure fine detail. Shadow detail is also a little lacking, where large areas of the stage that are not well lit can easily meld into one. There is no low level noise or grain present.
Colours, again, are good enough, but just do not appear vibrant. What should be a rich and sumptuous setting instead looks a little drab and lifeless.
There are no compression artefacts at all, nor are there any film artefacts in this transfer. Aliasing, while present and accounted for where expected (violin strings, such as at 6:21 and 89:49), is always minor and never particularly distracting.
The only subtitles on this disc are used to name the movements as they occur. While this is useful, it would have been nice to see full lyric subtitling.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 55:00 between Chapters 21 and 22. This is between parts I and II, and is completely invisible - there is no sound, and it is a blank screen. There is absolutely no way to find this layer change without a layer indicator. That is how it should be.
There are two audio tracks present on this disc. They are both the original performance recording, in Linear PCM stereo, and DTS 5.1 (half bit-rate).
The soundtracks are clear and transparent. Vocals are well separated from the music, while the instruments are easy to pick out. The PCM track does seem to be a bit finer in this regard, giving a slightly more detailed sound. On the other hand, the DTS has the advantage of the centre channel for the vocals, freeing up the main speakers for the music, presenting a more precise sound. In the end, personal preference will decide between the two - my preference is for the PCM track.
Audio sync is generally good, although there is one occasion from 107:40 to 107:50 where it becomes a little suspect.
The surround channels in the DTS track are largely ignored, providing only the most minimal of ambient reflections that are really quite useless. Both DTS and PCM soundtracks have good stereo separation, although the PCM track is a little better in this regard, giving a slightly more expansive representation.
The subwoofer is, as is to be expected, barely used at all, providing some backing for the timpanis when they come in, and otherwise barely raising a rumble.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is good - there is nothing to complain about at all - but is quite uninspiring, being quite flat and drab.
The audio quality is very good. The DTS and PCM tracks are only subtly different, although enough that it is likely that a preference will emerge.
The extras are quite limited, although they are interesting. The interviews are a very welcome accompaniment to the performance, and help to put a more human face on it.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|