I wish I could give this more than 5 stars: it's that good!
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 09/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this film of Mozart's "Requiem" from a British source, not realizing it would be made available in the US. I'm very happy I did, as the sound and picture are so beautiful and the camera work so impressive, I can't imagine anyone not being moved by it.
Karl Bohm (1894-1981) is one of my favorite conductors, and the best represented in my CD collection. He made many great sounding recordings beginning about 1933, and even some of his old mono recordings with the Dresden State Orchestra (1934-43) sound nearly modern. Today's technology for restoring recordings for CD has no doubt been helpful with that, but the original recordings were so well made in many cases. I think Bohm is a very consistent conductor, and you can almost always count on him to provide a solid recording of a given work, even if it isn't always the most exciting or driven. On the contrary, Bohm's recordings unfold naturally, laying bare the structure of a given work, and letting the listener have a great aural experience.
Bohm's authority as a Mozart conductor is never in doubt: he recorded all the Symphonies for DG with the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1960s, and there are 6 of them rerecorded in the late 1970s,late in his career with the Vienna Philharmonic. There are earlier recordings (1950s) of the late symphonies in Vienna and with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Bohm recorded Mozart's REQUIEM with the Vienna Symphony in 1956 for Philips, and again in 1970 with the Vienna Philharmonic for DG. This video recording was made in December, 1971, and shows Bohm in full command of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Vienna State Opera Chorus. There is perfect precision, or as near perfect as I can perceive. Bohm is always solidly in control, and never pushes tempos faster than they need to be. Hearing the "Dies Irae" makes my pulse race with the drama and intensity of the text. While feeling the fear of the last judgement, I am at once overwhelmed by the beauty of Mozart's music. The other movements are equally as consistent, and the solo singing by a dream team quartet: Gundala Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Peter Schreier, and Walter Berry, is wonderful.
The film makers used montage effects to create different sense of space, showing Bohm conducting superimposed on the chorus in some scenes. But the camera work is excellent. The church where this was filmed is very beautiful, dating from the 1700s, so the date of the building matches approximately Mozart's composition: likely what the producer intended. The orchestra and chorus are placed between the high altar of the church and the sanctuary, and there is a beautiful crucifix visible, as well as an elaborate silver design resembling the rays of the sun going out from a center circle, which I believe is the tabernacle where the consecrated bread is kept. The space and church - what great acoustics! - do much for the success of this video. Color and perspective of the picture are also excellent, and the sound - 5.1 surround, is wonderful, and I have modest, non-surround sound equipment.
Karl Bohm was 77 when this was filmed, and he looks about 60. He conducts with vigor, strength, and total musical solidity. I believe Bohm to be a better Mozart conductor than Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) although Karajan is more famous and has had more recordings released in the US than Bohm. Karajan also recorded Mozart's "Requiem" at least three times for DG during the stereo era, the final one in DDD sound. (I haven't heard any of Karajan's 3 recordings of Mozart's "Requiem.")
You can tell my enthusiasm for this DVD. Don't take my word for it: check it out for yourself. You'll have great picture, sound, music, and whether you are Catholic or Protestant, a moving religious experience all in one!"