The Art of Piano-Great Pianists of the 20th Century (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||106:44 (Case: 108)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Donald Sturrock|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during credits|
Naturally, when taking about pianistic film clips, we are tending to extracts rather than complete works or complete movements, so if you have an aversion to shortish excerpts from some of the great classical compositions of all time, this is perhaps one to be avoided. For those like myself who do not have a problem with such excerpts, the great talent that is on display here comprises:
The music may be somewhat repetitive, but this reflects the fact that great musicians gravitate to great music! The quality of the pianistic talent on display is not be argued with and this really is fine stuff.
The transfer is predominantly presented in a Full Frame ratio, but also contains interview material framed at 1.85:1. None of the program is 16x9 enhanced.
Obviously, with the extracts again coming from a variety of sources and a variety of eras, there is something of a disparity in the quality of the video transfers. However, in general, this is a more consistent looking effort and none of the clips really descend into murkiness. The image is generally quite reasonable, not the epitome of sharpness but at least with a decent definition, apart from a couple of instances where the pianist is in silhouette. One notable exception involves the clip of Vladimir Horowitz, which is one of the most diffuse and indistinct images I have seen. Even allowing for the source material age, this is not a great view. Detail is also quite reasonable although shadow detail is nothing really wonderful. Clarity is still a little poor at times, although most of the problems in this regard would seem to be a reflection of the source of the material. There does not appear to be any really significant problem with grain, although there is the odd break-out of grain here and here that I did not find really distracting. There does not seem to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer.
Whilst most of the clips are in black and white, the interview material is generally in colour, as are a few of the clips. The black and white on offer is quite varied, but never really descends into murky grey tones. The black and white might not be the absolute best, but in general has a nice depth to it that is very watchable. Obviously some clips are far better than others. The most notable colour clip involves the same Vladimir Horowitz clip as above, and it is quite poor indeed. Apart from lacking any real depth to the colour, it has some quite distinct colouration problems: I am fairly sure that Vladimir Horowitz did not really have a distinctly greenish skin tone! The colour interview material is much better and generally very nice indeed, quite natural looking and without a trace of oversaturation or colour bleed, however this is not what I would call a vibrant transfer.
There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no real problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, although a Vladimir Horowitz clip (again, although this time the Variations clip) suffers from quite noticeable aliasing in the piano keys. Film artefacts were variable in their prominence with one or two clips being a little plagued with the problem, but in general they do not detract at all from the enjoyment. The problems are all source-related and in general there is little to fault the actual transfer over.
The subtitles on the DVD do not provide any lyrics to the songs but rather provide a translation of the interview material in foreign languages. Accordingly, it is a bit disconcerting that the subtitles default to off rather than with the English subtitles on.
There are three audio tracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack and a German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. Since the language is only really applicable to the narration and interview material, there seemed little reason to venture further than the English soundtrack.
Dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.
There did not appear to be any really serious problems with audio sync in the transfer, although naturally enough some of the earlier material was not exactly in sync. This is not a DVD mastering problem but is the result of inherent problems with the source material I would suspect. The music itself obviously comes from a rather diverse range of composers, but most falls into the category of genuine classics.
The biggest problem with the soundtrack is the fact that there is a little background hiss to some of the music. However, it is not that much of a distraction and, just as with The Art Of Singing, if you are used to CD recordings of the early 1930s and earlier, the hiss is not any worse than what you are used to. Once again, it is important to remember to balance the quality of the sound with the comparative rarity of some of the material on offer here. This is mono sound that makes few apologies for being so, and is quite a frontal sound. Thankfully, it is not too congested, and has a decency to it that shows the slightly later original mastering of the sound when compared to The Art Of Singing. The quality of the piano virtuosity on offer is certainly not harmed by the sound.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A good video transfer of some aged material.
A good audio transfer of some aged material.
An extras package that should have been so much more.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|