Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart on Tour Vol 3 Schwetzingen Paris|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The finest roadshow biography of Mozart continues
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 03/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This, the third volume of a six volume series, presents hours 5 and 6 of a 13 hour biography of Mozart that concentrates on his peripatetic lifestyle. Numerous musical excerpts from every Mozartean genre are featured and contemporaneously composed piano concertos are appended to the end of each episode, 14 concertos in all. I first saw these programs, superbly narrated by Andre Previn who also helped script them, on a local cable channel here in New York owned by the City University of New York. These may have been broadcast on PBS but I am unaware of any particulars. The series was filmed to coincide with and commemorate the 200th "anniversary" of Mozart's death; something I hardly felt celebratory about but it packed the Mozart bin at the record store so I can live with it. The entire series is superb, one of my favorite television experiences.
Schwetzingen and the court of the Elector of Mannheim is where Mozart spends four months early in 1778 in an unsuccessful bid for permanent employment. A well publicized incident in which Mozart walked out of a public rehearsal of music by the renowned (and powerful) Abbe Vogler in full view of the entire court, pronouncing his music amateurish and unlistenable (and the Abbe a no-talent oaf), may explain his lack of professional success. Mozart was forthright but often reckless around those he did not respect. He spends some four months knocking on the doors of the mighty and all he has to show for his pains is a gold watch, his 5th. A humorous letter written by Mozart and read by actor Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War on PBS) has the young composer musing about creating trousers with watch fobs all around them so that he might hang the unwanted time pieces in full view of the stingy nobility. Whatever the difficult circumstances, Mozart's sense of the ridiculous never leaves him. His lively comic sense, of course, will later be put to good use creating the finest comic operas ever written. Episode 5 explores the pressures on Mozart to make money as best he could by providing music on order for whoever could pay for it. The piano concerto in C Major KV 246 was written for a not very accomplished young lady and the music is simple yet often sublime. It is performed by Christian Zacharias on the stage at Schwetzingen Palace with conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti leading the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra. It is a lyrical performance, quite energetic and lovely. This episode also includes excerpts from Mozart's flute quartets filmed in a gorgeously painted performance room in the baroque Schwetzingen Palace. Despite Mozart's well-known hatred for the flute, he wrote some of the most beautiful music ever composed for a wind instrument for it: the bedrock of the flute repertoire. Some excerpts from his violin concertos are also performed.
Episode 6 explores possibly the saddest journey Mozart ever made. Following his "failures" at Mannheim, Mozart and his mother travel to Paris (Mozart's final trip there). Shortly after their arrival, his mother becomes violently ill and then passes away. Despite his grief, Mozart writes three extremely compassionate and moving letters to his father and sister at home in Salzburg. He prepares them for the shock of her death by pretending she still lives, "worsening" her condition so that he might gently prepare them for the blow. All this while her body lay merely a few feet from his writing desk. Mozart was barely 22 at the time. Michael Kitchen, who serves as Mozart's voice by reading from many of his extant letters, does a wonderful job bringing this sad period to life. He appears onscreen throughout the series and is one of it's finest aspects.
Just before leaving on his journey, a prominent French pianist known only as Mlle. Jeun'homme visited Mozart in Salzburg and performed some of his works. For her great skill, Mozart created the revolutionary piano concerto in E Flat Major KV 271, his first truly great mature work. In a Salzburg Festival performance, Mitsuko Uchida gives a blistering, insightful reading with the Mozarteum Orchestra under Jeffrey Tate. This is a world class performance in all respects.
It is important to point out that the piano concertos that appear at the end of each program appear to be the same as the ones already offered on DVD as the "Mozart - Great Piano Concertos" series available from Euroarts. They are reviewed here at Amazon, as well. So if you own any of those you will be duplicating them here. That's a pity because the history segment narrated by Mr. Previn is fascinating
The film is in color and is shot fullscreen 4:3. The region code is NTSC World excluding Asia. Menu language is English. No subtitles. The sound, although the packaging states DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1, is in Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 only. This is a factual error that should be fixed. In any event, the stereo soundtract is clear and well-focused. The digitally remastered video is clear with no video artifacts except a little ghosting during rapid movement. There are no bonuses.
This continues to be the finest biography of Mozart I've ever seen and I strongly recommend the entire series. Ultimately, what Mozart achieved was breathtaking. We wish that fate had been a little kinder to this gentle man from Salzburg who managed to create such incomprehensible beauty and who asked so little in return.