Beethoven-Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (Daniel Barenboim) (DVD-Audio) (2000) (NTSC)
Notes-Beethoven's Works In Their Time
Featurette-Barenboim on DVD
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Daniel Barenboim|
|RPI||$32.95||Music||Ludwig Van Beethoven|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This is part of a set of the complete Beethoven Symphonies released on DVD-Audio. All the symphonies are performed by the Berliner Staatskapelle conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
This title pairs arguably Beethoven's most well known and popular symphony - the 5th - against a comparatively less familiar symphony - the 4th. Sandwiched between the 3rd ("Eroica") and the 5th, Schumann once remarked that the 4th was "like a slender (schlanke) Greek maiden between two Norse giants." So proclaims my copy of Grove's Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies.
I would be tempted to call the 4th "obscure" except for the fact that no Beethoven symphony can ever be called obscure given the number of cycles of Beethoven symphonies regularly performed by orchestras all over the world and the sheer number of complete recordings of Beethoven symphonies available in various formats (though interestingly, the complete cycle has yet to be released on Super Audio CD).
The 5th on the other hand is familiar to many people, not the least because a disco version of the "Fate" motif made its way into Saturday Night Fever, and thus was destined to set the beat of many a disco club for many years thereafter.
Such is the popularity of the Fifth Symphony that it influenced countless composers after it. Even today, what we generally regard as being a "typical" structure of a symphony is subconsciously modelled on the Fifth Symphony: an instrumental musical work lasting just under half an hour, divided into four movements, typically played by a "largish" orchestra, with the first movement being brash and bold, the second lyrical, the third whimsical, and the fourth majestically conclusive.
It is interesting to note that Beethoven himself never quite followed this "formula" slavishly. The 6th ("Pastoral") symphony, written at the same time, has five movements, three of which are joined together, and the massive 9th ("Choral") symphony is over an hour in duration and features four vocalists backed by a massive choir in the 4th movement.
Anyway, enough ruminations. How do the performances stack up?
If you have been fearing that these might be "radical" or "adventurous" interpretations, rest assured, these performances are about as mainstream as they come. The fad for "period" performances on "period" instruments seem to have faded in recent years, so what we get are simply the notes performed as they are written on paper, by a modern, competent world-class symphony orchestra, with tempi that are neither too fast nor too slow. In other words, what you might expect from any decent concert hall performance on a symphonic night out.
|1. Symphony No. 4: Adagio – Allegro Vi|
3. Allegro Vivace
4. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
|5. Symphony No. 5: Allegro Con Brio|
6. Andante Con Moto
The video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. Each song is accompanied by musician credits, a set of photos and lyrics. The disc starts with a rather annoying (especially if you are trying to use the disc without a video display and wondering what is happening) video intro which is basically a slideshow of various stills.
Whilst the music is playing, a set of 16 stills (images of various paintings related to Beethoven, and facsimiles of manuscripts) are selectable using the page keys on the player.
The DVD-A section contains an MLP 96/24 5.1 track, and the DVD-Video section contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. No stereo tracks are available.
Note that unlike other titles in this series (which have 5.0 audio tracks), the audio tracks on this disc are marked 5.1. However, I never noticed anything significant coming out of the subwoofer channel.
The multi-channel mix focuses most of the music on the front left and right channels, with the centre channel used as filler and the rear speakers used for hall ambience.
The soundstage is suitably rich and deep, although the rear speakers are probably a tad more pronounced than I would have liked, occasionally creating a bit of bleed of the music from the fronts into the rears.
Balance and dynamics sound just about right, and overall the recording captures almost all the nuances of a symphony orchestra in a concert hall. The recording is a good showcase of just how realistic a high resolution multi-channel recording is. I've been in concert halls where the acoustics are not as pleasant as on this recording. The recording also fared well against other versions I have on various CDs.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track in comparison tries very hard and superficially sounds quite similar. However, upon closer listening the strings sounded a lot harsher and the soundstage becomes very flat (also known as the "wall of sound" effect) during loud passages.
|Surround Channel Use|
Most of the fairly scanty extras are available on both the DVD-V and DVD-A sections of the disc. However, the DVD-V section does not contain audio excerpts from other Teldec titles - only the album covers.
This is a 16 page booklet containing black and white photos, a track listing, a short essay on the work by Andreas Richter (in English, French, and German), DVD-Audio operating instructions, and production credits.
Full frame and static.
This is a set of 6 stills (English, German and French versions available) presenting a set of trivia/facts about historical events, other works of art and other Beethoven compositions surrounding the creation of compositions featured on the disc, e.g. "Emperor Franz II abdicates: end of the Holy Roman Empire".
This is a short featurette on the Barenboim Beethoven symphonic cycle now available on DVD-Audio. It is presented in full frame and Linear PCM 48/16 2.0. It features Daniel Barenboim at the recording studio waxing lyrical about the wonders of high resolution surround sound on DVD-Audio, accompanied by behind the scenes footage of the orchestra rehearsing. In addition, the recording producer Christoph Classen also says a few words about the new medium being a "brave new frontier" etc.
This features album covers and short selections from other DVD-A titles available from the Teldec catalogue, including:
This is a set of two stills containing production credits.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This title is identical across all regions.
Continuing the cycle of Beethoven symphonies available on DVD-Audio, this title contains Symphony No. 5 - arguably Beethoven's most well known symphony - paired with a lesser known symphony, No. 4. Daniel Barenboim conducts the Berliner Staatskapelle in performances that are solid and easily digestible.
The MLP 5.1 audio quality is excellent. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio quality is acceptable. There are no stereo tracks.
Extras include a short featurette.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|