Mozart-Bernstein Conducts Mozart (Symphony No39, Piano Concerto No 17) (1981) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Dec-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 72:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (35:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Humphrey Burton
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Leonard Bernstein
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $59.95 Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Audio dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
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

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Plot Synopsis

    This all-Mozart programme was recorded at two concerts eight days apart in October 1981 at the Vienna Musikverein. In the first half of the programme Leonard Bernstein conducts himself and the Wiener Philharmoniker from the keyboard in the Piano Concerto No 17. In the second half he conducts the same forces in the Symphony No 39, before a much better dressed audience than in the first work.

    The symphony was written in 1788, at the same time he wrote the 40th and 41st, which were his last works in this form. The concerto dates from four years earlier. Both works have remained popular to this day.

    Bernstein's performance of the concerto is very good. Apart from a few waves of the hand during the orchestral introduction he does not seem to do much in the way of conducting. The cameras are positioned on both sides of the soloist and also at a low angle, enabling his playing to be seen from below.

    The symphony is played as though it is Mozart filtered through Beethoven, a very weighty performance in the Classical style. Both works are taken reasonably swiftly, though towards the end of his life Bernstein tended to slow down his interpretations dramatically. This resulted in some interminable Tchaikovsky symphonies, but here there is nothing to complain about. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. At the conclusion of the symphony Bernstein ceases to beat time and seems to be just dancing along with the music.

    This Unitel production is in two parts, with end credits after each work. The disc is overpriced, which seems to be typical for classical DVDs (with the exception of those from the Universal Music Group), but even at the hefty asking price this is worth the money, if you like the content and the performers. Certainly the Wiener Philharmoniker remains one of the best ensembles in the world, and at the time of this recording was probably only just shaded by their Berlin counterparts.

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Transfer Quality


    The concerts are presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. The video format is NTSC.

    The concerts appear to have been filmed in 35mm rather than on video. Unitel recorded a lot of material on film, but later moved to video with less impressive results. You can see an example of their video recording on the trailer for the Brahms symphonies on this disc, and see for yourself how poor it looks.

    This transfer is very good but does exhibit a number of problems. The most annoying is the aliasing, which affects not just the piano on the first concert but also the flute, and on the second concert the strings are rife with aliasing. There is also considerable Gibb Effect, with plenty of minor noise visible throughout. There is also chroma noise on the red wall panels. Film artefacts are limited to very infrequent flecks.

    Motion judder caused by the NTSC transfer is very noticeable during the symphony, as Bernstein sometimes seems to be holding four batons.

    The lighting is quite bright though not overly so, and tends to be from the back of the stage. Shadow detail is very good, but the position of the lighting reduces this. Detail generally is good, and colour is very good as well.

    No subtitles are provided, though each movement of both works has a burned in title.

    Although the running time of this disc is a little over 72 minutes, the disc is dual-layered with the layer break placed between the works at 35:48.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks, the default being Linear PCM 2.0, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 track thrown in for good measure. I listened to the DTS track and sampled the others.

    Audio is very good on each track. There is a good dynamic range. I noticed no distortion, though the piano tended to sound a bit hard. Most of the instruments sounded clear with a little congestion when everyone was playing, but not enough to be disturbing.

    The surround tracks are a bit of a mixed bag. The front soundstage is quite good, slightly better than the Linear PCM track in my opinion. There is good separation of the channels across the front.

    Use of the rear channels though was disappointing. In both works these channels are silent except when there is applause, and that applause sounds boxy and artificial. The low frequency effects channel is not used in the concerto recording, but from the opening bars of the symphony with its drum beats there is plenty of work for the subwoofer, which is nicely integrated with the rest of the audio.

    The only difference I could hear between the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks is the usual difference in volume, the DTS track being a notch louder. The Linear PCM track is much softer than either, so when switching between them it was necessary to adjust the volume by several notches. The symphony recording also seems to be quite a bit louder than that afforded the concerto.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    A brief booklet that contains some information about the players and recording, plus a two page essay about the works repeated in several languages.

Trailers (10:42)

    Four trailers are provided. Another Bernstein Mozart recording, this time of the Clarinet Concerto and the Symphony No 25, and a Bernstein recording of the Brahms First and Third Symphonies are both in 1.33:1. The other two trailers are widescreen and 16x9 enhanced, being a concert of Mozart conducted by Neville Marriner and a Mendelssohn concert conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

R4 vs R1

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

    There appears to be no difference between the Region 4 and the same material in other regions.


    A very enjoyable concert with one of the world's best orchestras in peak form.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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