Chris | South Africa | 07/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw these music DVDs advertised I was bit worried about there not being any views of the orchestra playing - only pictures of scenes around Europe. Personally I like to SEE the orchestra playing because that is the nearest one can get to actually being at the performance. However, I was very surprised and pleased to see how well Naxos have done these DVDs. The picture quality is absolutely superb and is as pin sharp as one can get with the NTSC 525 line system. I'd love to see them if they are ever issued in the European PAL system with their higher resolution of 625 lines! The colours are brilliant, clean and natural.The sound is available in Dolby 5.1 and DTS and plain ol' stereo even though the stereo option is not mentioned on the cover. What I found nice was that I could change from 5.1 to DTS while the music was playing instead of having to stop the disk. Of interest to me was that the data rate when playing Dolby 5.1 was 448 kbps but in DTS the rate went up to 1,509 kbps - an increase of three times. This was definately noticeable in the playback quality where there the sound was crisper and cleaner. The cover states that the audio is remastered in Dolby Digital and DTS. What it doesn't say is what it's remastered FROM. This concerns me because unless the original recordings were made in Dolby Surround, how can one ever produce six channel surround from two channel stereo unless the original was multi-track recording? I wonder if anyone knows what system the original sound was recorded in?Now to the minus points! The cover states "Features E-Z Menu system for the most accessable navigation." Personally I think they should have called it Diff-ee-kult Menu System - because easy it is NOT until one gets used to it! On the cover, the tracks each have a number. On the disk they do NOT! The DVD player only ever indicates a "1" with the result that it's impossible to know which track is playing without stopping the disk. Another irritating thing is that the play time of a track can ONLY count up and not down. No totalising of the disk is allowed with the result that one can't see how much time is left or how much has been played. This may seem trivial, but I found it to be annoying as I like to see how much time is left when playing a track. The running time on the cover is 56 minutes and not the 85 minutes as stated by Amazon.com. What would also have been nice is for the title of the musical item being played to be displayed in small leters at the bottom of the screen as well as the location of the scene. The only way one can find out where the scene being shown is, is to go to "Menu" when the track changes to the next one and click on Travel Notes. The track being played is automatically highlighted.This Italian Festival disk is excellent and starts off with Leoncavallo's Mattinata and Tarantelle. The 5.1 surround is very spacial but if I were to criticise it, it would be that there is perhaps a bit too much echo which gives the impression of being in a large hall. I intend to eventually get the entire range as they are so good."
Good music, poor scenery choices
hakbox android | 12/28/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this video as a christmas gift for my fiance (who is obsessed with Italy since our recent trip there) hoping that it would focus more on italian scenery than the orchestral music. I was saddened when we watched it together on christmas morning and both felt severely dissapointed.
It seems that a lot of effort was directed towards making the music sound perfect. So if you need a good ambiance cd, then this is for you. It's great for playing in the background, but make sure your TV is off.
The scenes that were chosen are stale, and unprovocative. The video lacks arial shots (such as the recent "Italian Style: Nothern Italy" video which aired on PBS, which was breathtaking), and most of the scenes are of scrubby fishermen standing around staring at the camera.
Another problem with the video portion of this DVD is that none of the BIG attractions of the cities are shown. For example, when Venice is in the spot light, they don't even show "Piazza San Marco", or "Il Palazzo Ducale". I'm not even sure that these shots were taken in Italy! They could have been taken in any town. The shot displayed on the cover isn't even IN the video all together!
The video portion also lacks such things as a title bar indicating what town you are watching at the beginning of each video. This is extremely annoying as you have to EXIT the currently playing selection, and try to figure out which city is playing by staring at the scene selection screen (the currently playing city is in a different color). You may think this is bearable, but the video starts from the beginning again when you do this, which is not bearable at all since the video itself is painful to watch in the first place.
All in all, this video DVD, should not be considered a video DVD at all. If you like the music, then buy it for this purpose, and this purpose alone. The DVD, IMHO, has really nothing to do with Italy. I returned my copy of it."