Violin Concerto

De Falla

Nights In The Gardens Of Spain

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Booklet
Main Menu Animation
Year Released 1997
Running Time 87:11 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (47:19)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Bob Coles
Arthaus Musik 
Starring Maxim Vengerov 
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim
Placido Domingo
Case Super Jewel Case
RPI $39.95 Music Jean Sibelius
Manuel De Falla

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
Audio (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No
16x9 Enhancement No
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    A recent entrant in the DVD market in Europe and the United States has been the classical DVD label of Arthaus Musik. Originating in Germany, it is great to see this range of DVDs now arriving in Australia, courtesy of Sonart, so comparatively quickly. We are pleased to be able to give one of their first batch of releases the once-over. This particular disc comprises a rather interesting mix of music. The actual music on offer on the DVD is:     The main work here as far as I am concerned is the wonderful Violin Concerto composed by Jean Sibelius in 1903. This is the more well-known and often performed revised version of the concerto. Jean Sibelius was rather unduly affected by critical opinion and unfortunately quite a number of his works were subject to revision after their premiere, amongst them the Violin Concerto. My all-time favourite recording of this concerto is actually the first ever recording of the original version of the concerto, as released on CD by BIS as part of a systematic series that will see the entire output of Jean Sibelius released, including a number of original versions. The violinist on that recording is Leonidas Kavakos, accompanied by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska. Unfortunately, this version is not quite in the league of that CD recording, but Maxim Vengerov is a wonderful fiddler and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is still one of the great orchestras of the United States. The overall result here is still very good and it was certainly enthusiastically received by the audience, and you can always gauge how good the soloist was by the ovation accorded by the players in the orchestra. Maxim Vengerov gets a fine reception from the band, I can assure you! The other major work on offer is Manuel De Falla's Nights In The Garden of Spain, with Daniel Barenboim at the piano. Unfortunately, this is not quite so successful a performance, as Barenboim does not really get inside the idiom of the music as well as is needed to make the music really shine - this definitely requires the influence of the likes of Alicia De Larrocha at the keyboard to be memorable. Still, it is interesting to see Placido Domingo waving a baton rather than warbling away with his overrated mates.

   The overall programme is certainly entertaining enough and represents a promising start to the Arthaus range in Region 4. The overall presentation is good and the transfer is in general also good, barring a consistent problem. If you enjoy classical music, and especially that of the early part of the twentieth century, then you probably cannot go too far wrong here.

Transfer Quality


    When you first get a new distributor in the market place, the review process is a little different as you have no idea of what awaits you. Is it going to be the good, the bad or just the plain ugly? So, there is just a little trepidation when the little piece of polycarbonate is taken out of its case and placed in the player. The first few minutes are the important ones, and it has to be said that the initial impression is a good one.

    The transfer is presented in Full Frame format and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Having seen a rather wide variation in the quality of classical music DVDs over the past eighteen months, the trepidation is just a little more heightened than if it were a movie I was about to watch. I need not have worried, as this is in general a good transfer that certainly cedes nothing in terms of quality to more experienced sources. This is a generally very sharp and detailed transfer that is marred only be one minor lapse in focus during the entire program. The depth of field here was also better than one would normally expect. The shadow detail is as good as I have seen in any classical DVD, and the interesting design of the Kolner Philharmonie where the performances were recorded is shown quite wonderfully. The transfer is very clear and completely free from grain. There are no low level noise problems with the transfer.

    The overall colour palette is generally very good, although there is a little difference between the shots from in front of the stage when compared to the shots taken from the rear of the stage. The latter come over just a little too bright, and this is especially noticeable in the unnatural brightness of the music sheets. Other than that minor issue, since there are not too many shots from the rear of the stage, the only other issue is that the depth of the blacks could perhaps have been a little bit deeper. Overall though, there is a nice rich tone to the transfer that would seem to capture the feel of the venue very well indeed. There is no problem with oversaturation here, nor any issue with colour bleed.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is however a rather consistent, and ultimately mildly distracting, problem with aliasing. The usual culprits here are the violin strings, piano keys, flutes and the like which at no time really show any solidity. This is the biggest shame here, as it is a bit difficult to ignore the problem when there are a number of extreme close ups that really highlight the problem. Other than that, there was a bit of jitter in the image at around the 25:25 mark that was a little distracting. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 47:19. This is a bit of a baffling location as it is just at the start of the first movement of Nights In The Garden Of Spain and is just a tad noticeable as there is a noticeable halt in the motion of Placido Domingo starting the music. About one minute earlier was what amounted to the intermission between the two main works, and had the layer change been placed there it would have been completely unnoticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are just two audio tracks on this DVD; a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I predominantly listened to the Dolby Digital soundtrack but also sampled the Linear PCM soundtrack.

    The music comes up very well in the transfer, as does the brief piece of dialogue from Maxim Vengerov introducing his first encore.

    There is really not a whole lot to say about the audio side of things on this DVD. Obviously there is no use of the rear surround channels at all, nor any use of the bass channel. There does seem to be some use of the front channels suggesting that this has been mixed as a definite stereo effort. It sounds good, no matter how it was mixed, although perhaps just missing a little in the way of clarity at the very top end of the scale on some of the violin playing. It is completely free from distortion. The only significant difference between the Dolby Digital soundtrack and the Linear PCM soundtrack is the slightly more noticeable stereo effect in the Dolby Digital soundtrack. The Linear PCM soundtrack is a nice bright sounding effort that is entirely reminiscent of a decent compact disc recording. I really found the overall sound to be very good on the disc, irrespective of the soundtrack being listened to.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Perhaps this is the one area of this disc where expectations were not exceeded.


    Very stylishly done, nice and clean and looking quite good. There is some minor animation, but not enough to rave over.


    Whilst not an overly extensive effort, it does at least provide some nice basic detail about the music and the performers. It could have been a lot more extensive, but if this is the sort of quality that we will get from Arthaus Musik, then perhaps we should be grateful, as it is not any less desirable than those provided by what will inevitably be the major competition for this label.

R4 vs R1

    This is identical to the Region 1 release other than presumably NTSC formatting, making the Region 4 PAL release a slightly better choice I would think.


    Sibelius - Violin Concerto is a good start to the Arthaus Musik range in Region 4, albeit with the one caveat regarding the video transfer. I sincerely hope that issue will be rectified as on the evidence here, and from brief looks at a couple of other DVDs from the range, this is one of the better new ranges to arrive in Region 4 lately. Certainly lovers of the main works, but especially the Violin Concerto, or lovers of great fiddling have little reason not to pick this one up. A nice, classy-looking start to what will hopefully be a successful range in Region 4.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
18th October 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL