Herbert Von Karajan-Beethoven Violin Concerto (1984)
|Year Of Production||1984|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Herbert Von Karajan|
Herbert Von Karajan
|RPI||$34.95||Music||Ludwig Van Beethoven|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-R-LS-RS (448Kb/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||No|
This recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D minor with Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker and featuring the soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter came during the last few years of the conductor's magnificent career. Whilst departing somewhat in style from a more traditional presentation of the piece, it has become a well-loved recording. It was made as part of a series of studio performances arranged by Von Karajan to capture some of the major classical orchestral works for both audio and video. It is a real treat that they are now finding their way onto DVD.
This was certainly not the first collaboration by Von Karajan and Mutter - they had begun working together 6 years prior to this performance with recordings of Mozart when the latter was only 15 years old. That fact is stunning enough in itself, but her maturity and mastery of the instrument on display here are truly wonderful. Probably the first thing that will be apparent if you are familiar with the piece is the slowing of the tempo in the first (Allegro ma non troppo) movement from what is generally considered normal speed. Apparently this was done at Mutter's suggestion, and adds several minutes to what is already an extremely long concerto movement. This allows Mutter to generate greater expression in her performance, and indeed every single note is made so much clearer.
For me, there are a number of small additional pleasures shown up in the individual performances in this DVD release. One is seeing Von Karajan during some of Mutter's solo passages, reaching out with his hands motionless except for a single finger motioning in just the minutest of fashions, as if he were entranced by the performance going on just a few feet in front of him. Another, during the final movement, is to see in close-up Mutter's fingers perform the most remarkable feats of agility one could possibly imagine. And finally, to top it all off, is the moment after the piece is completed, when for a fraction of a second before the video finishes we can see Mutter's (and Von Karajan's, for that matter) unbridled happiness at her performance.
|1. I. Allegro ma non troppo|
2. II. Larghetto
|3. III. Rondo, Allegro|
I have just one slightly more significant complaint. Anne-Sophie is clearly defined audibly to the left of centre, as she should be, but when she appears front-centre in the picture there is a rather off-putting detachment between sight and sound, which initially appeared (to me anyway) to make her appear to be playing in slow motion. This is one unfortunate by-product of this type of production when applied to a concerto.
The picture is presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 ratio being, as it is, sourced from a "made for video" production.
It is not apparent whether the recording was made on a concert stage or within a recording studio. Whatever the situation, filming of the performance was done with several fixed cameras positioned around (outside) the orchestra. The relative distances involved and the sparse lighting required shallow depths of fields in most cases. Thus, while the particular subject on screen is always clearly defined, others in the line of view tend to be out of focus. The formal wear being worn by members of the orchestra doesn't offer too much detail or colour, but shadow detail and low light images are quite acceptable.
On such a short programme as this there is little need to lose information through over-compression, so MPEG artefacts aren't a great problem. However, the baton arm of Von Karajan, seen in profile against a dark background, did leave trails of ghost images that I presume were an artefact of the transfer process. No other artefacts were detected.
The Dolby Digital 4.0 track is really a revelation. The split surrounds provide powerful concert hall reverberation and ambience. Every sound appeared to be perfectly defined. The effect is remarkably like sitting in the front few rows of the auditorium. Even more remarkably, I could have sworn when I closed my eyes that Anne-Sophie was playing right there in my living room, a couple of feet in front of and just to the left of my TV.
This recording really allows the solo violin to shine through in all of its incredibly varied voices, with magnificent depth in the lower range all the way through to clear and distortion-free intonation at the top end. The orchestra is almost like a sounding board for the soloist. The subwoofer gets plenty of attention and only adds to the "being there" effect. The bass string and woodwind sections and the timpanis, especially, all benefited and I never experienced any distortion or audio lag.
I did find with this track that in those places where the orchestra played fortissimo, the sound became somewhat cold with the audio equivalent of a metallic sheen. This was not a frequent problem, but did detract just marginally from the overall excellent quality of the presentation.
In comparison, the PCM track offers a far more traditional, CD-like, listening experience. Surround effects were muted and the subwoofer was inconsequential. The precise definition apparent with the Dolby Digital track was missing. However, the trade-off is that the whole effect appears somewhat warmer.
Personally, I can see myself never playing the PCM track again, giving my preference to the clarity on offer with DD and giving me the audio illusion of Anne-Sophie playing in my own home. With my eyes closed, I can even see her standing there as well.
|Surround Channel Use|
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)|