Orff-Carmina Burana (London Philharmonic-Mehta) (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Crew
Notes
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 60:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Friedemann Engelbrecht
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Zubin Mehta
Sumi Jo
Jochen Kowalski
Boje Skovhus
London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Choir
Southend Boy's Choir
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Carl Orff


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Latin MLP 88.2/24 5.1
Latin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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

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

Plot Synopsis

    You'll have heard the prologue from Carmina Burana dozens of times, even if you don't know the music by name - think of the dramatic Gregorian chanting frequently backing Satanic rites in B-grade movies or the theme music from Badlands, Natural Born Killers or Excalibur. Anyway, the aforesaid overture is called Fortune, Empress of the World or Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi in the Middle Latin in which the performance is sung. Carmina Burana means 'Songs from Benediktbeuren' and refers to a 13th Century European manuscript from a Bavarian Abbey containing a rich collection of poems, which the German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982) used as a basis for his musical composition. The manuscript was a sort of Continental version of Chaucer's Tales, with an often bawdy reflection of contemporary life.

    The stage cantata Carmina Burana covers the human basics of Life, Love and Carousing with the famous epilogue and prologue bemoaning the fickleness of Fate. The music has unique choral and orchestral representation of powerful themes directly appealing to our pagan natures and you if aren't stirred and shaken by this work you might as well stick to watching The Footy Show and Baywatch.

    This DVD-A version was recorded in September 1992 in a concert hall in Snape Maltings, England. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and the Southend Boy's Choir are conducted by the Bombay-born Zubin Mehta. The opera singers are the soprano Sumi Jo, the baritone Boje Skovhus and alto Jochen Kowalski.

"O Fortune, like the moon changeable, always waxing or waning;
hateful life now is harsh and then is caring on a whim; destitution, power it melts like ice."

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. O Fortuna
2. Fortune plango vulnera
3. Veris leta facies
4. Omnia Sol temperat
5. Ecce gratum
6. Tanz
7. Floret silva
8. Chramer, gip die varwe mir
9. Reie
10. Were diu werlt alle min
11. Estuans interius
12. Olim lacus colueram
13. Ego sum abbas
14. In taberna quando sumus
15. Amor volat undique
16. Dies, noxx et omnia
17. Stetis puella
18. Circa me pectora
19. Si puer cum puellula
20. Veni, veni, venias
21. In trutina
22. Tempus est iocundum
23. Ducissime
24. Ave formosissima
25. O Fortuna

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video on this disc is restricted to illustrations of chapters and Latin song titles presented in the form of an illuminated manuscript - this is all you get on a DVD-V player. The NTSC video is presented at 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. On a DVD-A player, you get a few more extras presented in similar format (see below).

    The stills are clear and as they are well illuminated there is no shadow detail to be or not revealed.

    Colours in the video stills are vibrant with no discernible artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, a six channel PPCM offering for those with DVD-A players and a Dolby Digital 5.1 offering for those with DVD-V players - I couldn't find a way to play the DVD-V version on my DVD-A player. Both offerings are of superb quality. I listened to both tracks and also a CD recording of Carmina Burana (not the same version sadly) played on my reference stereo system of Arcam FMJ23 CD player and Musical Fidelity A3CR pre/amp.

    The singing of all three opera singers and choirs was clear and easily discernible if you understand Latin. If you don't then I guess you can't sing along as there are no lyrics included in the disc booklet.

    The music is quite difficult to listen to as there is a considerable dynamic range in this recording. The quieter choral chanting is prone to sudden passionate explosions of drum, gong and cymbal provoking irate requests from other household members to turn the volume down. The only way to properly appreciate this recording is to dedicate an hour free of distraction or interruption and let the music flow over you. The DVD-A recording is simply magnificent, whether it's the crash of a gong breaking like a wave on rocks or the delicate reverberation of a soft choral rendition. Ethereal muted brass wafts softly from the surrounds to provide an aural background to the distorted chords and rhythms of the main feature. The DVD-V recording is also excellent but lacks some of the dynamic response of percussion and delicacy of alto and soprano vocals. What about my CD version? Well, despite an excellent Czech recording, once I had been spoilt by the DVD versions good 'ol 16 bit PCM sounded hollow, thin, strident, grating and downright horrible - get the idea?

    The surrounds are tastefully utilised to enhance ambience without distraction with only an occasional instance of duelling brass to reinforce that yes, this is full frequency response surround sound.

    To my surprise, the subwoofer was barely utilised with only a quiver of response from some of the bass strings - I thought it could have been more usefully incorporated. This highlights one of the oft-quoted criticisms of the DVD-A and SACD formats - as only analogue outputs are supported in high-resolution modes, your processor's bass management functions, dependent on a digital signal input, are bypassed. This necessitates the use of effective bass reproducing front mains or tapping off high level bass input from the speaker leads as is possible with some subwoofers.

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

Extras

    There are few extras and apart from a chapter selection menu they are only available to a DVD-A player.

Menu

    The menu is presented in static 1.33:1 non 16x9 enhanced format, as are the extras.

Booklet

    This is the typical booklet that comes with Warner DVD-As. It contains track headings and times, three pages of notes on the origins of the music and poetry and a page of credits. The same information is repeated in French and German.

The Music

    4 pages of chapter headings in Latin enabling track selection.

On Carmina Burana

    3 pages of notes on the origin of the lyrics.

Zubin Mehta

    A 4 page biography.

Also available

    8 slicks of other Warner DVD-As

Credits

R4 vs R1

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

    There are no current region restrictions on DVD-A and so this version is identical to that sold overseas. Note the R1 typical NTSC video format of the stills will cause viewing problems on non multi-mode PAL R4 televisions but the DVD-A will boot up and play without user input so video viewing isn't essential.

Summary

    This is a stunning recording of an oft-played but generally underrated composition. Both DVD audio tracks leave CD recordings of this piece woefully behind in quality, dynamic range and sheer listenability. DVD-A definitely carries the edge but the DVD-V version is worth the purchase if you have yet to upgrade your DVD player.

    The Latin lyrics of the poetry are of considerable interest and it would have been good to provide an English translation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Friday, June 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Analogue Subwoofer Output - Rod W (Suss out my biography if you dare) REPLY POSTED
Bass Management - Anthony H (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Classical DVD Audio - Mr Gimlet (bio-hazard)