Andrew Lloyd Webber-Masterpiece: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (2001)

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Released 5-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Backstage In Beijing
Featurette-Sponsor Of The Show - Motorola
Featurette-Cast Visit to the Great Wall of China
Featurette-Cast Views on the Show
Featurette-Music Of The Night (A Capella)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 134:59 (Case: 180)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (89:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Nick Morris
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Elaine Paige
Kris Phillips
Sandy Lam
Tony Vincent
Case Click
RPI $39.95 Music Andrew Lloyd Webber


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Motorola is the sponsor of the show
Action In or After Credits Yes, closing titles over end of concert

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

Plot Synopsis

    Masterpiece: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber is a gala concert held at The Great Hall Of The People at Beijing, China. It features a selection of well-known songs and arias from most of Andrew's best-selling musicals from his first (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - 1968) to his latest (The Beautiful Game - 2000). Given that the concert was held in 27 September 2001, there is no mention of Bombay Dreams which opened recently in London (however, this musical is only produced by Andrew and does not feature his songwriting or lyrics).

     The selections are performed by an ensemble cast of unknowns (who seem to be mostly Australians given that auditions and rehearsals were held in Sydney) accompanied by the China Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Patrick Vacciarello. In addition, the following people get "star" billing:

    Note that of the above names, only Elaine would be well-known. Kris Phillips is a Chinese American with extensive touring experience in China so serves as a useful "bridge" between the English songs and the Chinese audience. Sandy Lam is a Chinese pop singer and Tony Vincent does have some Broadway experience.

    Ensemble pieces include "Buenos Aires," "Let Us Love In Peace," "Take That Look Off Your Face," "Love Changes Everything," "Pie Jesu," "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," "All I Ask Of You," "Masquerade," "The Perfect Year," and a very sizzling "Macavity: The Mystery Cat."

    The China Philharmonic gets to strut their stuff in a number of instrumental showcases, including "Evita Suite," "The Jellicle Ball," "Aspects of Aspects," "Car Chase" plus overtures for "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Beautiful Game," and "Phantom of the Opera." In addition, the Beijing Dengshikou Primary School Choir participate in "Any Dream Will Do" and "No Matter What."

    Finally, the entire cast joins together for "Friends For Life - Amigos Para Siempre."

    Some have said that they were disappointed that this concert did not feature more well-known names, but I think the performances were adequate and the musical selection was pretty close to perfect as an introduction to Andrew Lloyd Webber's music. Whether I am biased or not - perhaps because of patriotism (after all, many of the cast and crew were Australians) or because of hormones (I can't help it if I find Kris Phillips extremely handsome and appealing!) - I found the concert very enjoyable and worth watching.

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Track Listing

1. Superstar Overture
2. Superstar
3. I Don't Know How To Love Him
4. Any Dream Will Do
5. Evita Suite
6. Buenos Aires
7. And The Money Kept Rolling In
8. Don't Cry For Me Argentina
9. The Heart Is Slow To Learn
10. Beautiful Game Overture
11. Let Us Love In Peace
12. Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)
13. Take That Look Off Your Face
14. The Jellicle Ball
15. Macavity: The Mystery Cat
16. Memory
17. Aspects Of Aspects
18. Love Changes Everything
19. Whistle Down The Wind
20. Pie Jesu
21. Phantom Overture
22. The Phantom Of The Opera- The Journ
23. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
24. All I Ask Of You
25. Masquerade/The Music Of The Night
26. Car Chase/Sunset Boulevard
27. The Perfect Year
28. As If We Never Said Goodbye
29. No Matter What
30. Friends for Life- Amigos Para Siemp

Transfer Quality

Video

    I was expecting an excellent widescreen 1.78:1 transfer with 16x9 enhancement, given that the concert was held in September 2001. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case.

    Although the colours are fairly vibrant and the production quality is high, the transfer itself seems to be prone to artefacts such as aliasing and pixelization. I suspect the video transfer rate has been set too low resulting in the MPEG encoder working overtime. Numerous compression artefacts abound, including Gibb's effect ringing and macro-blocking.

    All-in-all, the transfer seems to lack vertical resolution. I wonder whether the video source may have been non-anamorphic and then artificially enhanced for 16x9.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 89:51 and is only mildly annoying due to the slight pause, but at least it happens between songs. There are no subtitle tracks which is a bit unfortunate since I would have liked some of the Mandarin dialogue to have been translated into English. Fortunately, most of the material is in English and the dialogue between songs is kept to a minimum.

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc, which are all labelled "English" although there is some Mandarin dialogue spoken in between songs. The audio tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and dts 5.1 (768Kb/s). I mainly listened to the dts track, although I occasionally flicked across to the other two tracks.

     The dts track is pleasant enough, although oddly mixed at a lower level (1-2 dB less) than the other two tracks. Clearly, the rear channels are discrete as the audience applause in between songs is nicely decorrelated across all speakers, creating a very convincing "you are there" feeling. Apart from audience applause though, the rear channels are fairly subtly used for musical ambience. The centre channel is integrated into the mix.

    Apart from a brief use during the beginning of the concert, the subwoofer track is not used at all for most of the concert - my subwoofer switched itself off about half an hour into the programme and did not bother waking itself up again. However, in mitigation, there is not a lot of low frequency information in the audio track.

    I felt that the dts track sounded just a little bit "thin" and "brittle" compared to say CD quality. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very similar to the dts 5.1 audio track and it would not be easy to tell them apart. I felt it was ever-so-slightly more thin and brittle than the dts track. Surprisingly, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track sounds very nice, in fact fuller and warmer-sounding than the other two tracks. Also, it seems to have been mixed at a relatively high level.

    I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

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

Extras

    There is a reasonable collection of featurettes totalling nearly 45 minutes of video on this disc. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all the extras are also 16x9 enhanced. The audio tracks on all the featurettes are in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s).

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced. The main menu features background audio and animation.

Featurette - Backstage In Beijing (37:08)

    This is a rather extensive "making of" featurette about the production, showing extensive "before the show" scenes of rehearsals in Sydney and in China, and lots of interviews with cast and crew:

Featurette - Sponsor Of The Show - Motorola (5:35)

    This features ShanQi Wang (director of marketing for Motorola China) talking up the show and trying to convince us (and himself I suspect) why this event was worthy and appropriate for Motorola to sink their marketing dollars into. This featurette ends with two Chinese TV commercials featuring the Motorola mobile phones promoted as part of the sponsorship.

Featurette - Cast Visit to the Great Wall of China (2:34)

    This is a short segment featuring members of the ensemble hopping onto a bus visiting a section of the Great Wall of China, plus some soundbites of the cast talking about the show and the production.

Featurette - Cast Views on the Show (2:00)

    This seems to be a collection of soundbites from various ensemble members captured backstage and before/after the concert.

Featurette - Music Of The Night (A Capella) (0:56)

    This seems to be an impromptu rendition of Music Of The Night sung by members of the ensemble (or is it the crew?). Some of the notes are off key, but I don't think anyone minds.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title is not yet available in Region 1 but has been announced for release in the near future. I don't expect the features of the Region 1 version to differ substantially from the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Masterpiece: The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber is is a gala concert held at The Great Hall Of The People at Beijing, China in September 2001. It features a selection of famous songs and arias from various musicals sung by a cast of mostly unknowns (apart from Elaine Paige). The video transfer quality is poor, but the audio transfer quality is acceptable. Extras include a generous selection of featurettes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, May 31, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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