Mahler-Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection': Vision Mahler (WDR, Bychkov) (2006) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Mar-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Main Menu Audio & Animation
Booklet
Introduction
Featurette-Making Of
Interviews-Crew
Short Film-Field of Vision
Alternate Subtitles-Legible Score
Gallery-Photo
CD
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 84:41 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring None Given
Case Gatefold
RPI $74.95 Music Gustav Mahler


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
English
French
Spanish
Italian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony begins with a funeral march and concludes with a triumphant ascension into the transcendent hereafter. It was first performed in 1895 and swiftly became one of his most popular works, which it remains to this day. It is often given the subtitle of "Resurrection" though this was not a name given to it by the composer.

This DVD stems from the 50th anniversary concert of the German public broadcaster WDR on 1 January 2006. The broadcaster's own orchestra performed the symphony in Cologne under the baton of Semyon Bychkov and the concert was broadcast live on television. What sets this particular performance apart is that WDR commissioned artist Johannes Deutsch, in collaboration with Ars Electronica Futurelab Linz, to produce a visual representation of this symphony along with the actual performance. Deutsch designed many coloured objects which formed the basis for computer-generated images. These images were projected onto a huge screen over the orchestra. While the CGI objects moved in a pre-programmed sequence the actual live playing was translated by a series of computers into variations within the imagery, so that the result was a unique visual display that can never be exactly replicated.

If that wasn't enough the whole thing was done in 3-D, the audience members having to wear special cardboard glasses to see the full effect. And the accompanying television broadcast was also in 3-D. Viewers could buy the glasses at local outlets - WDR had 235,000 of them made for distribution.

The result is one of the more bizarre DVDs I have seen. In the whole performance we see the computer-generated imagery only, without any sight of the orchestra or auditorium. Large irregularly-shaped objects or various colours move around the screen, the speed of their movement governed by the tempo of the music. As a one off broadcast this would have been fascinating, however I doubt that anyone would watch it repeatedly. It is at various times fascinating or boring in equal measure.

The DVD transfer is two-dimensional, so there is no option to see what the live or TV audiences saw. The performance of the symphony is fairly average too which is a bit of a drawback. However if you are interested in visual as well as performance arts you might be interested in this. I suggest however that you watch the extra material before the main programme, as it will give a better understanding of what the artist was trying to achieve.

This DVD comes from Arthaus Musik catalogue number 101 421 and is distributed in Australia by Select Audio-Visual. Despite the packaging stating that it is coded for all regions, the disc that was supplied for review is coded for Region 2 only, something to beware of if you don't have multi-region capability.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is in 16x9 enhanced NTSC. The original aspect ratio of the live performance was in a much wider aspect ratio by the looks of it and the screen used for the original projection was 55m wide. I was unable to replicate this in the home environment.

There really isn't much I can say about the transfer as I have no frame of reference to compare it with. Colours seem vibrant and the transfer sharp. The only artefact I noticed was some low level noise, particularly at the start of the programme.

Optional subtitles are provided for the vocal parts. These seem to follow the original text and are in a clear white font.

The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer break placed at 58:50 during a break between sections..

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

Audio

There are two audio tracks, being Dolby Digital 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0. I listened to the surround track and sampled the stereo one.

As can be gleaned from the accompanying "making of" documentary, a 48-track recording was made at the performance, so a reasonable surround mix should have been possible, and that is what has been delivered. There is a very wide dynamic range and the quieter parts had to be at the barely audible level in order that the louder passages didn't cause the neighbours to knock on my door. The spread of the soundstage is very good, mainly across the front channels without any directional effects. The vocal parts could have been a little louder in the overall mix.

There seemed to be some rumbling coming from the subwoofer at times, but it did not really stand out.

The stereo track is quite good, with better clarification of the orchestral players at the expense of a more recessed sound.

If there were issues with audio sync it was beyond me to notice them. The only issue I had with the audio was that the sound started immediately the first track started, which was jarring as it felt like the beginning was slightly chopped off (although it wasn't).

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio and Animation

Vision and audio from the main feature.

Booklet

The booklet contains several essays on the production and the people and companies involved.

Introduction by Johannes Deutsch (5:41)

From the menu you have the option to watch the programme by itself or after this brief introduction by Deutsch, which was recorded at the concert. I'm not sure I understood his intentions any better after watching this, as what he said seemed a little vague.

Making of Vision Mahler (29:51)

This is the longest extra on the disc and it covers the artist's conception as well as the preparation for the concert.

Interview with Seymon Bychkov (7:25)

An enthusiastic Bychkov discusses this work as well as his approach to Mahler.

"Field of Vision" by Johannes Deutsch (4:36)

A brief video of a previous installation by Deutsch, an interactive three-wall cubicle with bizarre images projected on the walls being controlled by his movements. I found this more visually fascinating than the symphony, but then it doesn't go for an hour and a half.

Symphony With Legible Score

I thought from the title that this would be a scrolling facsimile of the actual musical notations by the composer, but it is nothing of the sort. It is actually an extra subtitle stream with text provided by the artist explaining what is happening in each section or movement. The text is presented on a grey strip across the width of the screen. This appears to be the same text as in the photo gallery.

Gallery-Photo

This gallery consists of stills from the main programme together with explanatory notes by Deutsch.

Audio Recording of the Symphony

There are an extra two discs in this package: a recording of the concert on two CDs. The transfer seems to be at a lower volume level than on the DVD with a more recessed sound. I found the audio to be lacklustre and much preferred the stereo recording on the DVD.

R4 vs R1

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

This DVD is manufactured in the EEU for worldwide distribution so there should not be any differences between regions.

Summary

An unusual presentation of this symphony. While the audio portion is not ideal there isn't anything else out there like this. I have doubts about the replay value of this material but it is an intriguing idea. The disc is Region 2 only.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is very good.

Plenty of relevant extra material.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW60 SXRD projector with 95" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into HD DVD Player, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationReceiver: Pioneer VSX-AX4ASIS; Power Amplifiers: Elektra Reference (mains), Elektra Theatron (centre/rears)
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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