Bach-Violin Concertos/Double Concerto/Air on the G String (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 15-May-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Main Menu Audio
Notes-Credits
DVD Credits
Biographies-Crew-J. S. Bach Biography
Notes-Travel Notes
Trailer-12
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 54:13 (Case: 56)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By G. Gachot
Studio
Distributor

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Takako Nishizaki
Alexander Jablokov
Capella Istropolitana
Oliver Dohnanyi
Case Amaray Claw
RPI $24.95 Music Johann Sebastian Bach


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio dts 5.1
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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

    Slowly but surely we progress through the Naxos Musical Journey, which this time brings us to another voyage through the Baroque era. The music on this occasion comes from one of the truly great composers of all time in Johann Sebastian Bach. Although perhaps best remembered for his towering vocal works, most notably his vast collection of cantatas, together with his oratorios and mass (evidence of his strong religious beliefs), his legacy of instrumental music nonetheless contains some superb work. Amongst the gems in this area are the three major works presented on this DVD, namely: with the program being rounded out with the famous Air on the G String, from BWV 1068 (obviously so named in a time when there were somewhat less sexual connotations to the title). Whilst being German by birth and having spent most of his life in Germany, the use of Italian scenery to accompany his great violin works may seem a little inapt, but this really is not the case as there is a degree of lightness in these works that is certainly reminiscent of the concertos of his great Italian contemporary, Antonio Vivaldi.

   Sadly, the current issue of the "bible" - The Penguin Guide To Compact Discs - is a little bit silent on these performances. However, earlier versions certainly indicate that whilst the performances are not amongst the very best recordings available, they are nonetheless quite decent efforts. Certainly I have few complaints about the equivalent compact disc that is in my collection, even though it is not my favourite recording of the main works. Funnily enough, listening to the music here makes me think that they are better than I recall on the compact disc, and they are certainly enjoyable enough even if lacking the extra something to make them more distinctively memorable.

    The visual accompaniment to the music is again quite decent. BWV 1042 is accompanied by scenes from the Villa Mansi in Lucca (including the rather wonderful gardens), Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and around Arezzo. BWV 1041 is accompanied by landscapes taken from the Cinque Terre region near Genoa and the Chianti district near Florence. The Cinque Terre region comprises the five small towns of Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore and is quite an attractive area. BWV 1043 is accompanied by scenery from the Lake Bolsena area and around Civita village in Tuscany. Air on the G String returns us to the Chianti district. Another quite diverse collection of images and one that certainly is worthwhile watching.

    This is another pleasant enough way to spend just under an hour listening to some excellent music with some nice images of Italy. If you are familiar with the series so far, there is not much here that would be unfamiliar to you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and is not 16x9 enhanced. The transfer is an NTSC effort so you will require a display device capable of accepting such a signal.

    In keeping with the general trend of the series, these are again very nice video transfers: generally very sharp with plenty of detail to be found. Whilst there is the odd lapse here and there with the sharpness, there is nothing that comes close to causing qualms at all. Shadow detail is generally very good, although it is fair to say that in general the video has been shot in order to minimize the affects of shadows. There does not seem to be any serious issue with grain in the transfer and the overall impression is a very clear transfer throughout. There does not seem to be much of an issue with low level noise in the transfer either, although minor occurrences do seem to raise their heads at times.

    The colours are again very well handled, being generally bright and vibrant with a eminently watchable look to them. There is no hint of oversaturation here at all. There is nothing approaching colour bleed in the transfer.

    There generally are not any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfers. The ever-present problem of aliasing that is a hallmark of the series is once again present. However, it has to be said that this transfer is slightly less prone to the problem than other DVDs in the series. I continue to question how much of this is inherent in the NTSC format and how much is a result of mastering. There is nothing much in the way of film artefacts to worry about here at all.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. These are not flagged as language soundtracks, as they simply are music soundtracks. I listened to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack, whilst making samplings of the Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. Readers of the review of the previous Baroque collection in the series, featuring works by Handel, will note that I was not especially complementary towards the mastering of the sound of the 5.1 soundtracks with respect to the style of music, namely that they were far too dominant in the bass. Thankfully, this is a much better effort, even if it still has some problems.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is a fairly uncomplicated effort presenting some nice bright sound that suits the Baroque music well. Obviously lacking the power of the 5.1 soundtracks, it nonetheless would be a most pleasing choice for some decent background music for a meal. As far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with what it offered, and it seemed a better sound than on the compact disc equivalent.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a much more vigorous-sounding effort, although slightly blemished by a rather more "bitey" bass sound than is perhaps apt for the style of music. At times, it also had a somewhat over-resonant bass sound too, which certainly detracts from the music somewhat. The surround channel usage is decent if not especially memorable. Had the bass channel been a lot more naturally balanced within the soundscape, this would have rated a lot better in the listenability stakes.

    The DTS soundtrack provides a nice, all encompassing sound, with just a tad too much bass effect for the style of music. However, it seemed to be less afflicted by bass resonance, which makes this an overall more pleasurable listen than the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The rear surround channels did not feature a whole heap of action, but what was there was quite effective, as was the overall soundscape on offer.

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

Extras

    Another consistent package, identical with the earlier releases reviewed in the series, and much the same complaints can be raised too.

Menu

    Nicely done, with some nice audio enhancement.

Preview Trailers (12)

    These are all presented full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and are not 16x9 enhanced. The other DVDs in the series are covered, as are some other titles that are released locally by Wild Releasing and a few titles that are not available locally. The technical quality is once again not great, suffering quite noticeably at times from MPEG compression problems, as well as shimmer and what looks like moiré artefacting.

Notes - Credits

Travel Notes

    These are presented for each chapter, extremely briefly detailing the subject matter of that chapter. Nice but nowhere near extensive enough.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is the identical release to that in Region 1.

Summary

    Much in keeping with the rest of the DVDs in the series, this is a decent enough effort with some nice imagery complementing some great music. However, the ongoing video transfer problems remain a disappointment overall. If you have lived with the rest of the series, there is nothing here to dissuade a further purchase. The obligatory comments about the rather poorish DVD case - it is extremely difficult to get the DVD out of the case - and the fact that the entire DVD has no time information encoded, nor any real chaptering, so all your DVD player will display is the useful message "play", obviously still apply.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, January 16, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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