Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Christmas Goes Baroque / Handel Messiah Choruses - A Naxos Musical Journey|
Genres: Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Wonderful Christmas DVD set
Anton Karidian | Tennessee | 12/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 2-DVD set CHRISTMAS GOES BAROQUE and HANDEL MESSIAH CHORUSES is terrific for Christmas. The two programs complement each other nicely. CHRISTMAS GOES BAROQUE is the more secular of the two, with Christmas songs both secular and religious performed by the CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Peter Breiner. The songs, all performed instrumentally here, include "Silent Night," "Jingle Bells," "The First Noel," "O Tannenbaum," and 9 more. Christmas scenes in Switzerland run continuously on screen, and are mostly very pleasant and appropriate, though rather more pedestrian than I expected. They range from street scenes to shop windows to snow-covered landscapes. Santa Claus (or "Samichlaus" in Switzerland) is a frequently seen icon of the season. The camera lingers long enough to enjoy each view, so there's no rushed feeling to the video portion. However, this can be a bit odd at times, such as the lingering close-ups of musical instruments in a window display and of fish and other foods in a restaurant, neither of which is very Christmasy, but these are occasional aberrations. Overall the images are quite festive, and some beautiful, with the religious aspect of the season de-emphasized. With regard to the music, the intention was to make traditional Christmas songs sound as though they're in the classical music style, and this works quite well. The tunes are usually little changed, with some flourishes added here and there.
The HANDEL MESSIAH CHORUSES is the more overtly religious of the two programs, performed ably by the Bratislava City Choir and the Capella Istropolitana, with the visuals showing the stunning Benedictine Abbey Church in Bavaria. Again the camerawork is very unhurried, with a good balance of close-ups and wide-angle shots of the architecture, paintings, and sculptures inside and outside the church. One reviewer on the single disk page of this points out that the chorus "Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder" is accidentally missing here, but I don't know if any others are also absent. There are 21 tracks total. The balance between chorus and orchestra is very good, as are the tempos. When I first discovered this DVD I was surprised that the music is the choral parts of "The Messiah" rather than the more typical highlights, but now I'm rather pleased with that decision since I already had several recordings of the highlights.
Both discs combined run a little less than 2 hours, so they could have both easily fit on one DVD. The picture aspect ratio is 1.33:1, and is good quality and clear. There is an option on both discs to repeat the programs continuously if you wish, and also there is some text information on the visual portions of the programs. I should also note that both discs have the option of playing the music either in Dolby Stereo, DTS 6 Channel, or Dolby Surround 5.1, but since I have only a stereo I can say that they sound fine in that aspect, but I have no idea how well the surround sound functions.
In sum, this is a great Christmas DVD set that should please almost anyone. And of course, Handel's "Messiah" is not specifically about Christmas so could be enjoyed any time of the year. Although I enjoy this DVD set a great deal, I decided to give it 4 stars because of the slightly disappointing images of CHRISTMAS GOES BAROQUE, which seem to me are not quite as well selected as they should have been. Still, this is a great DVD set that I highly recommend."