Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage Collection (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage Collection (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

    The TV series Masterpieces of the Hermitage presents more than eight hours of artworks from the collections of this massive museum. The artworks were acquired by the Russian Tsars from Peter the Great onwards, though the museum was built later by Catherine the Great. This series tries to present the history of art through the works held by the Hermitage, though this approach really only works with the art of the Middle Ages onwards. This would have been a very good introduction to art and a fascinating glimpse of the enormous treasure trove that is the Hermitage were it not for the problems with this transfer. The video suffers from terrible aliasing throughout, and there are also problems with grain and sharpness. The audio has an annoying hum throughout.

    I found the content quite enjoyable and educational, although because of the vast scope of the series, nothing is really covered in depth. It is a great pity that the transfer is so poor, and the extras so limited, otherwise I would heartily recommend it. If you really want to see the masterpieces of the Hermitage, you had better start saving for the plane fare to St Petersburg.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 83:12 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music W. A. Mozart
Ludwig Van Beethoven
J. S. Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    Undoubtedly this series has been released on DVD following the success of the film Russian Ark, which attempts to encapsulate the history of Russia and the Hermitage in one ninety-minute shot. While that series showed the museum full of characters from history, this one does not show a living soul, concentrating entirely on the works of art that form this vast collection.

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    Catherine was an indefatigable collector of art, and as the art collection expanded, more buildings were added. The New Hermitage was constructed in the mid-19th Century as a public museum, and following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, the entire complex became a centre to house the treasures of Russia.

    This 16-part tour of the Hermitage's treasures was made for television in 1992. Starting with three introductory episodes, each instalment focuses on an aspect of the museum's collection. Naturally, it is impossible to cover everything, even in a series running over seven hours. The camera moves through the halls and rooms of the palaces, highlighting individual pieces in full and in close-up. The series forms a potted history of art, from ancient times to the 20th Century.

    The series is narrated off-screen by R. Parsons. I have not been able to determine who this person is, but he has an at times annoying delivery. His accent is all over the place, with a mixture of a plummy English with a Welsh lilt and American-style pronunciation. I found the narration quite distracting, especially the pronunciation of certain words, like dawg for dog, lawng for long, and aduration for adoration. The script he reads effusively (written by Susan Young) is also a little banal, although it is informative about the works depicted.

    Aside from the problems mentioned, the material presented is quite interesting and informative. It is a pity that this series has been given such a poor transfer.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

The Museum's Majestic Architecture (29:17)

    This is effectively an introduction to the series. Against the story of Catherine the Great, we are given a guided tour of the palaces that comprise the Hermitage Museum, from the construction of the Winter Palace to the addition of the New Hermitage, and how it became an art collection.

The Vast Sculpture Collection (26:55)

    An overview of the collection of sculpture that the Hermitage has collected over the past 250 years, including not only the great sculptures of the Baroque, Rococo and Neo-Classical periods, but also relief works, and the museum's large collection of porcelain.

Highlights of the Masterpieces (26:59)

    An overview of the vast collection of paintings amassed by the Hermitage from the time of Peter the Great onwards. Included are works from Fra Angelico to Gainsborough to Van Gogh.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    When I saw the dreaded logo for Avenue One appear, I felt an impending sense of doom. And unfortunately, my fears were justified up to a point. The video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours are displayed, although as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    There is only one instance of aliasing present. It commences at 0:00 and goes until 83:12. Seriously. This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The museum's interior comprises a lot of intricate straight and curved lines, especially the door surrounds, the ceilings and the balustrades. So do most of the artworks. As the camera rarely remains still, the continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:39, 2:01 and 2:47. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 2:39 and 27:12.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio would be reasonable if it were not for one significant flaw. There is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    In another glitch, the audio for the first 29 seconds on the first episode is the same as the audio for the first 29 seconds of the second episode. The narrator starts talking about the sculpture collection, but is then cut off and the correct audio is substituted.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of sculptures from the collection. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Six pages of history relating to the construction of the Winter Palace and the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, as well as her accession to the throne. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released on a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it was not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, January 23, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Why Avenue one ? - wolfgirv

Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 84:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music W. A. Mozart
Ludwig Van Beethoven
J. S. Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided that she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The second disc in this series looks at some of the less well known facets of the collection, including decorative arts from Europe, art from the ancient East and artworks from the time of Peter the Great. This is interesting material, although the short running time precludes studying any of the subject matter in depth. Again, the three episodes on this disc are narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

Decorative Arts of Italy, France and England (28:58)

    This episode concentrates on cabinets, pottery, porcelain, plates, vases, urns, glassware, furnishings, mosaics and tapestries from various eras,  including a segment on English silverware.

Art From Mesopotamia to Ancient China (28:33)

    Episode five looks at the museum's artworks from ancient times, but from regions other than Greece and Rome, which are covered in later episodes. Sumerian and Assyrian art are covered, as well as the products of India and China. The array of artworks includes sculpture and statuary, tablets, reliefs, pots, urns, vases, rugs, books, clothing, jade and even bronze arrowheads.

Russia in the Age of Peter the Great (26:59)

    This episode looks at the life and times of Peter the Great, who established the city of St Petersburg at the beginning of the 18th Century. A traveller and successful military leader, Peter acquired artworks from all over Europe, but especially from the Netherlands and England. His life is seen through engravings, paintings, furniture, machines and even his Royal Coach.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the first disc in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    The video is not sharp, and has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours appear, although as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The moving camera brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:31, 31:04 and 34:49. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 5:14 and 6:23.

    There is an example of the Moire effect on the tapestry at 26:34.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As in the first disc in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction. The second episode on this disc has traditional music from the countries represented.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of pottery and porcelain from the collection. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Six pages of history relating to the construction of the Winter Palace and the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, as well as her accession to the throne. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released on a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it were not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 76:57 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music W. A. Mozart
Ludwig Van Beethoven
J. S. Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided that she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The third disc in this series looks at art of the Classical era and the Middle Ages. This material is interesting, but sadly the video transfer reduces the pleasures to be gained from watching it.

    Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

The Art of Ancient Egypt (25:58)

    There are almost 10,000 pieces in the Hermitage collection from Ancient Egypt, ranging from stone and bronze statuary to stone pottery, including sarcophagi and tablets covered in hieroglyphics.

The Classical World of Greece and Rome (24:32)

    This episode covers the Greek and Roman collections, which consists mainly of statues and other sculptures, together with pottery. The development of the art of decorating pottery in ancient Greece is covered in detail. The influence of Greek art on Roman art is also addressed, with numerous examples shown.

Art of the Middle Ages (26:26)

    There is a fascinating selection of artworks shown, including paintings, statues in the Gothic and Romanesque style, and the substantial collection of armour held by the Hermitage. Reliquaries, icons and other religious items form the major part of this episode.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    The video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master, at times looking like it was transferred from a VHS copy. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours appear, though as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The museum's interior comprises a lot of intricate straight and curved lines, especially the door surrounds, the ceilings and the balustrades. So do most of the artworks. As the moving camera brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 3:16, 6:29 and 27:40, it is often difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 29:54 and 52:23.

    There is an example of a Moire effect at 58:02.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As in the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of statuary and sculpture from Ancient Egypt. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Six pages of history relating to the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, as well as her accession to the throne. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it was not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 84:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music W. A. Mozart
J. S. Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided that she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The fourth disc in this series looks at the collections of paintings from the 15th and 16th Centuries. Note that while the titles shown on the back of the case are correct, the details shown for each are for the episodes on disc three.

    This is where the material gets even more interesting. The remaining episodes in the series give a history of European art from the Renaissance onwards, with the development of new styles and themes in art. Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

Art of the Early Italian Renaissance (28:22)

    This episode traces the origins of the Renaissance through the art of the early Italian masters, such as Fra Angelico and Martini, and the development of religious art from the late Middle Ages..

The High Italian Renaissance (27:24)

    The work of such masters as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and Tintoretto is highlighted, and through paintings and sculpture the splendour of the Renaissance is revealed.

Art of the Netherlands: 15th and 16th Century (29:02)

    The Northern Renaissance occurred in the relatively small countries of Flanders, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Here we get to see masterworks by Van Eyck, Leyden, Holbein and Breughel the Younger.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As in the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours are shown, although as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The moving camera rarely remains still, and the continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:12, 29:55 and 33:31. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 1:27 and 3:54.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As with the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of Italian paintings. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Five pages of history relating to the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, and the construction of two of the Hermitage buildings. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it were not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, January 26, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 83:10 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The fifth disc in this series looks at the collections of paintings from the 17th century, and like the fourth disc, is quite interesting and informative. Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

17th Century Flemish Painting (27:42)

    This interesting episode depicts the works of Rubens, Van Dyck, Brouwer, Jordaens, Snyders and others.

Rembrandt and the 17th Century Dutch Masters (27:23)

    While the collection has a small number of paintings by Rembrandt, it also has works by many of his Dutch contemporaries, such as Hals, Steen, Ter Borch and van Ruisdael.

Velazquez, El Greco, Goya and the Spanish Masters (28:04)

    This episode covers the Spanish part of the collection, which has only one Goya, but several paintings by Velazquez, El Greco, de Morales and others.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours are presented, though as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The museum's interior comprises a lot of intricate straight and curved lines, especially the door surrounds, the ceilings and the balustrades. So do most of the artworks. As the camera rarely remains still, this continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 5:01, 11:38 and 19:10. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 52:24 and 56:18.

    There are also some minor video tracking errors, for example at 29:37.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As in the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during the recording process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of Flemish and Dutch paintings. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Five pages of history relating to the acquisition of artworks by Alexander I, and the construction of another Hermitage building. The grammar as usual is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it was not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 1 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 2 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 5 (1992) | Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 85:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
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

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The final disc in this series looks at the collections of French paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, and more recent, modern works. Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

The French Classical Style of the 17th & 18th Centuries (28:56)

    This interesting episode depicts the works of the reign of Louis XIV and later, including Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Le Brun and Watteau.

The Road to Impressionism: 19th Century France (30:39)

    This episode deals with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, Pisarro, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin.

Modernism: Matisse, Picasso and 20th Century Painting (25:46)

    This episode concentrates on the works of Matisse and Picasso, and unlike others in this series, contains readings from their writings. Ludicrously, the voice of Matisse is done by someone with a German accent (he was French), and the Spaniard Picasso has a broad American accent. Very silly indeed. Also included are the Fauvists and works by Henri Rousseau.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours appear, though as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The museum's interior comprises a lot of intricate straight and curved lines, especially the door surrounds, the ceilings and the balustrades. So do most of the artworks. As the camera rarely remains still, the continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:42, 4:51 and 34:10. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 5:58 and 31:11.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As with the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during the recording process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of paintings from episode two on this disc. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Six pages of history tracing changes at the Hermitage from 1850 to 1996. The grammar as usual is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it was not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE