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DVD International presents
Mozart: A Naxos Musical Journey (2000)

"From the awe-inspiring architecture of a secluded Italian monastery to the splendor and charm of an Austrian city, these are the images conjured from the profound music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart."
- From the keepcase blurb

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 16, 2000

Stars: Barry Wordsworth
Other Stars: Capella Istropolitana
Director: Barry Wordsworth, conductor

Manufacturer: Alpha DVD
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:55m:29s
Release Date: April 25, 2000
UPC: 647715099426
Genre: classical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A+A-C C-

DVD Review

DVD International, in conjunction with the renowned Naxos budget CD label, brings us two Mozart symphonies and three overtures on this disc. The performances by the Capella Istropolitana are at minimum adequate, and are often extremely good. In particular, their rendering of the Symphony no. 40 and the Overture to Abduction from the Seraglio have a great deal of verve and life to them. One would not be embarrassed at all to have these performances in your collection of DVDs.

Our tour this time is rather limited; during the Symphony no. 40, we visit the Neustift Monastery in southern Tyrol. I don't know what the order of these monks was, but I can assure you they didn't take a vow of poverty. This monastery is an incredibly opulent palace both inside and out.

The remainder of the disc takes us to Innsbruck and its environs, which is less spectacular than Neustift but nonetheless quite striking in its baroque and rococo ornamentation. We spend time both inside and out of buildings, and a good deal of the duration is spent in close examination of paintings, frescoes and statuary. Those who find details of architecture, particularly old architecture, tedious will want to stay far away. For me, this disc was one of the most interesting visually of the lot of Naxos Musical Journeys.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image throughout is quite gorgeous. At Neustift, the blues and oranges are breathtaking. As mentioned above, this disc is a true visual feast. The camera obligingly zooms up to high ceilings to capture paintings that would barely be legible from the floor. Some of the frescoes tend to be on the darkish side, but the detail and color are more than adequate. There is little black to be seen, but what is there looks solid. No artifacts of any kind were visible other than a slight shimmer on one of the pans.

During the overture to Abduction from the Seraglio, the sky seems an unnatural shade of blue; it's not clear whether the sky really was such an intense color that day, or whether the color has been overly pumped. It's not too distracting, however. Overall, this disc gives us a highly pleasing image.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0n/ayes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is quite expansive. The DD 5.1 track has great depth and presence; the 2.0 track a little less so. On the Allegros, there is a firm bass that grounds the compositions well. The directionality is rather minimal; if one concentrates, you can isolate various voices, but the directionality is certainly not distracting by any means.

The one serious complaint I have is one that I've seen on some of the other volumes in this series: a failure to let the audio track end completely before cutting to the next track. Three of the four movements of Symphony No. 40 and the first two overtures clip the audio off seriously before the sound has had a chance to stop. This creates a highly distracting and unpleasant effect. Please, let the music come to a stop before moving along! What would otherwise be a solid A grade is dropped to a C because of the frequency of this annoying trait.

The DTS track is not reviewed at this time.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Travel notes
  2. Repeat feature
  3. Shuffle feature
  4. Biography of Mozart
  5. Previews of 12 discs distributed by DVD International
Extras Review: There are travel notes for most of the scenes here; the overture to Il re Pastore, oddly enough, omits any travel notes of any kind. I've not seen this omission on any of the other volumes in the set that I've reviewed. These one-screen notes for each movement are accessible only by going through the menu, and one cannot resume the movement where you left off afterwards, but must begin over. This function is highly irritating since the menu design is so awkward (the E-Z Menu bragged about on the keepcase is infuriatingly difficult to maneuver).

Since the travel notes are the only place that we can learn exactly what it is we're looking at, and they are so awkward to reach, we provide here the chapter listings and a brief description of the material shown on screen.

Symphony No. 40
1. Neustift Monastery, South Tyrol. Exterior and interior, paintings
2. Same, Viktorskapelle, gothic frescoes, chapel
3. Same, Collegiate Church, frescoes
4. Same, Monastic library and incunabula

Symphony No. 28
5. Innsbruck, Austria
6. Innsbruck-Helbling House
7. Innsbruck-House of the Golden Roof
8. Innsbruck scenes, Cathedral of St. James

9. Overture to Il re Pastore- Birds at the Alpine Zoo
10. Overture to Abduction from the Seraglio- Innsbruck, Collegiate Church at Wilten
11. Overture to La Clemenza di Tito- Innsbruck, Wilten Basilica.

The random play feature is somewhat useless due to the disabling of the chapter indicators; unless you know the music there's no way to tell where you've landed (assuming you care). The time function is also disabled for no good reason.

There is a brief, one-screen biography of Mozart which manages to say very little beyond the fact that he was a child prodigy. I would have liked a little more substance on the bio since this hardly seems worthwhile.

The most generous extra is the inclusion of previews, with voice over, of the other Naxos Musical Journey DVDs, Bach Violin Concerti, Handel Water Music/Royal Fireworks Music, Spanish Festival, Vivaldi Four Seasons, Italian Festival, and Christmas goes Baroque. Also included are previews of Video Essentials, Mars the Red Planet, Earthlight: Special Edition, Aquaria, Tender Loving Care and More Tales of the City.

I would give the extras a C+, but am downgrading them to a C- because of the awkward menu design and disabling of so many functions.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

This disc is a sumptuous visual feast. Lovers of baroque and rococo architecture will find much to admire here, and the great music is brought forth quite well. The effect is slightly spoiled by the clipping of the conclusions of about half of the movements provided, but overall this is one of the better discs in this series.


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