Ma, Yo-Yo/Meyer, E/O'Connor, M-Appalachian Journey: Live in Concert (2000)

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Released 2-Feb-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation
Notes-About The CDs
Biographies-Cast
Discography
Featurette-The Story Of "Appalachia Waltz"
Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 95:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Pat Jaffe
Studio
Distributor
Sony Classical
Sony Music
Starring Yo-Yo Ma
Edgar Meyer
Mark O'Connor
Alison Krauss
James Taylor
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Yo-Yo Ma
Edgar Meyer
Mark O'Connor


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, the bonus tracks come after the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Appalachian Journey features three classical musicians by the names of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O'Connor in a cock-rock posturing, hip gyrating set of lightning-fast fretwork. Okay, so I am making that part up, but I think I ought to be allowed to since I took the time to watch this performance and others seem to be allowed to make that up about other performances that they obviously didn't watch. All kidding aside, this particular live DVD features three very well-trained classical musicians on various stringed instruments, playing a lot of music that is good to sit down with after a stressful or anxious day. On this DVD, we also get guest appearances from James Taylor and Alison Krauss, who contribute to the performance with guitar work, a second violin, or vocals in a few places.

    Appalachian Journey as an album is a collaboration between the same three artists, and this DVD features them playing selections from that album, as well as a couple of other bits and pieces that can be considered traditional or whatever. I enjoyed this concert set a lot more than I thought I would - I was, in fact, viewing the disc prepared to hate it and request that it be assigned to someone else, but like all true arts, this performance rewards patience and a willingness to dig below the surface. As a matter of fact, I found the vocals in the few numbers that actually feature them to be more distracting than anything else - this is very much an instrumental performance, and my one suggestion to the performers would be to keep it solely that way in future.

    As a matter of fact, I knew I recognised Alison Krauss from somewhere - she features in three numbers on the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a CD I am listening to right now, although she doesn't appear in the actual film as far as the credits listing is concerned. I don't know who James Taylor is, but he contributes a worthwhile number on the guitar, at least as far as standing out from the three-pronged attack of the other strings is concerned. It goes to show what a small world the entertainment industry is becoming, both in the face of conservative economics and the crossing of numerous aspects of the industry (with a good dose of help from the Internet).

    This is a worthwhile concert that I would recommend to anyone, especially if they have an interest in something that will never get played on the radio.

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Track Listing

1. 1B
2. Emily's Reel
3. Misty Moonlight Waltz
4. Caprice For Three
5. Slumber My Darling
6. Limerock
7. Indecision
8. Hard Times Come Again No More
9. Appalachia Waltz
10. Fisher's Hornpipe
11. Duet For Cello And Bass
12. Chief Sitting In The Rain/College H
13. Schizoozy
14. Poem For Carlita
15. Druid Fluid
16. Vistas

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is good, but not exactly great. During the first chapter, the video appears to have been taken from an interlaced source, while the actual concert seems to have been sourced from a progressive, but possibly composite, source. The shadow detail is limited - there are frequent shots in which the black clothes of two performers make it very difficult to tell where their arms end and the blackness of the background begins. Thankfully, low-level noise is not an issue during the concert proper.

    The colours in this transfer are generally drab and cold, with only splashes of brown on the stage or the gold of the lights at the edges of the stage really breaking the almost monochromatic feel. Cross colouration can be seen in many long shots that feature strings - the strings on Yo-Yo Ma's cello show this artefact rather well at 12:40.

    MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, although the total bitrate of the transfer was surprisingly low given the total length of the concert and the RSDL formatting. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of frequent minor aliasing on the strings and bows, but this artefact was generally gone before I had the chance to really stop the disc and have a good hard look at it. The bows in particular showed a tendency to look jagged, but the rapid-fire changes in the camera angle made it hard to notice such problems before they were gone. Film artefacts were not noticed in this transfer.

    There are no subtitles on this DVD, not even for the rare moments when one of the performers speaks.

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

Audio

    Two soundtracks are featured on this DVD, both of them in English, and renderings of the music as it was recorded: the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which was recorded at 448 kilobits per second, and a 48 kHz, 16-bit Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack, which uses the standard 1536 kilobit per second rate.

    I preferred listening to the Linear PCM soundtrack, for reasons that will become clear when I talk about surround presence, but most of my comments refer to the Dolby Digital soundtrack.

    The clarity of the instruments was great, with the violin, cello, and bass violin each seeming to have their own space in the soundfield that wasn't quite in the speakers, but more sort of just to the right or left of the main speakers and the centre speaker. The vocals in the few numbers that feature them are clear and easy to understand, and no real problems with audio sync were apparent to me.

    Most of the music on this disc was composed or arranged by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O'Connor, with a few traditional pieces, or pieces of another composer's work, thrown in for good measure. It has always been my position that the true test of a musician is their ability to keep the listener interested in the actual instrumentation of a song, and there's no better way to measure one's ability in that respect than the instrumental. This is a test that these three pass with flying colours.

    The surround channels were not used well at all in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack - while the centre channel separates vocals and other instruments well, the surround channels only seem to come to life when the audience applauds. This happens between numbers, which certainly makes the surround channels more of a distraction than any sort of aid in placing the viewer within the concert. It is mainly for this reason that I preferred the uncompressed Linear PCM soundtrack, as the increased channel separation that makes the compression more transparent in a 5.1 soundtrack is a moot issue here.

    The subwoofer was not really used by the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with only a small amount of signal from the bass violin really giving the subwoofer the chance to scream "yes, I am here".

    In the end, I preferred the Linear PCM soundtrack over the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack because the extra channel separation of the Dolby Digital effort was utterly wasted, which in turn means that the PCM soundtrack had far better clarity and resolution. The Linear PCM soundtrack actually has more resolution than one can obtain from a CD, something that anyone with a decent digital receiver and a good pair of full-range speakers can appreciate.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu features animated introductions and text, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Notes - About The CDs

    A screen each of scrolling text is devoted to the two albums released together by these three artists, namely Appalachian Journey and Appalachia Waltz.

Cast Biographies

    This section offers options for discographies and biographies of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O'Connor.

Featurette - The Story Of Appalachia Waltz

    Contrary to what the title might have you believe, this two-minute fluff piece doesn't really have much to tell the viewer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack that shows signs of distortion when Mark O'Connor speaks.

R4 vs R1

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

    From the limited information I have been able to gather, it appears the two versions of this title are pretty much the same.

Summary

    I found Appalachian Journey to be an interesting break from the grind of what I've been reviewing in the past week or two, and I'm glad that I took the time and chance to investigate it. Lovers of good string-based music will find little to complain about here, and it makes a good introduction to this art form for those who know next to nothing about it.

    The video transfer is reasonable.

    The audio transfer is good, with the Linear PCM 2.0 mix being the preferred option.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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